It seems that increasing complaints against estate agents have sparked the UK government to take the appropriate steps. In order to ensure greater protection for tenants and lease holders from dishonest agents, they’ve decided to make it compulsory for those engaged in estate agency work to sign up to an approved redress scheme later in 2014.
The three approved schemes – The Property Ombudsman, Ombudsman Services Property and The Property Redress Scheme – were announced by Housing Minister Kris Hopkins last week. Letting agents will be required to join one of the three mechanisms as part of a government package of measures aimed at providing more robust protection to tenants.
The services will provide independent investigation of complaints concerning undisclosed fees or inadequate service, and provide compensation to tenants and leaseholders if a complaint is upheld.
Hopkins said that some 3,000 agents, or around 40% of the profession, are yet to sign up with one of the three schemes. They are now encouraged to do so before this becomes a legal requirement.
The move, which comes amidst a 23% rise in complaints related to estate agents’ unfair practices in 2013, will ensure that tenants and lease holders are treated fairly by their letting agent, giving them a “straightforward route” to receiving compensation if they get a poor deal, the minister said. While some agents provide adequate service, some still overcharge people, harming the industry’s reputation as a result, according to Hopkins.
The government is also launching a new voluntary code of practice for private landlords, a new help to rent guide, a model three-year tenancy agreement and additional guidance for councils as part of its measures to protect tenants and their rights.
Have you ever had a bad experience with an estate agent that you would want to make a complaint about?