Letting Agents Must Obey Consumer Protection Laws, Says Minister.

Date Published 18 October 2012

The Government has once again rejected a call for regulation of letting agents and landlords, saying there is enough legislation already in place to protect the public.

The minister, Baroness Hanham, specifically referred to the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 which applies to both letting and sales agents.

A story on LAT’s sister site Estate Agent Today on Monday covered what is believed to be the first prosecution of an agent who had breached the regulations, not by misdescribing the property, but by omitting something that could have soured the deal.

The minister also said that regulation of the private rental sector was not necessary because there were sufficient voluntary bodies.

Lord Browne of Ladyton tabled this question: `To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they will regulate landlords and letting agents, in the light of the increase in the number of young people unable to afford a deposit to buy a home; and, if so, how.`

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Hanham) replied as follows: `Letting and managing agents are already subject to consumer protection legislation.

`Consumer protection legislation covers issues such as giving false or misleading information, not acting with the standard of care and skill that is in accordance with honest market practice and claiming falsely to be a member of a professional body or approved redress scheme.

`For tenants or landlords who are charged unfair or unreasonable fees by an agent, this means that they are able to report this to their local trading standards officer or to the Office of Fair Trading which has both civil and criminal enforcement powers.`

She added that between one third and half of all agents belong to voluntary schemes.

She said: `[These] set standards and offer redress if things go wrong. In the light of these existing schemes, we have no current plans to introduce further statutory regulation. Disproportionate regulation on the private rented sector would push up rents and reduce the choice and availability of accommodation on offer to tenants.`