The National Approved Letting Scheme (NALS) has created a toolkit to help local authorities tackle rogue letting agents who fail to comply with the law.
NALS worked in collaboration with a number of local councils and experts in the Private Rented Sector (PRS), to create the Effective Enforcement Toolkit. The kit takes local authority enforcement officers step-by-step through the legalities and requirements for regulating letting agents.
Following the cuts that left some local authorities without specialist knowledge and skills to effectively regulate the PRS, NALS saw a need to support cash strapped councils protect local residents. Research conducted by NALS found that while 84 per cent of local authorities had taken some steps to promote new requirements for letting agents, only 16 per cent had issued any civil penalties for failure to comply with redress scheme membership, and less than half (46 per cent) had sent any warning letters to agents.
NALS’ aim is to give councils the tools to help protect tenants and landlords alike, by enforcing these requirements effectively, while also raising standards and professionalism in the industry.
The toolkit includes warning letters to letting agents who are failing to comply with legal duties, advice on serving civil penalties and even advice on highlighting enforcement action to the local media. In particular, the kit highlights to local authorities:
- The requirement by law for letting agents to belong to a government approved redress scheme
- Agents to display their fees, redress scheme membership and client money protection status.
- The power to issue civil penalties of up to £5,000 on agents that don’t comply.
Isobel Thomson (left), Chief Executive of NALS said, “More and more of us are choosing to live in privately rented housing, but public opinion of the private rented sector remains mixed. When an agent’s service is not up to scratch, landlords and tenants have every right to complain – but they need to know where to go and what their rights are.
“Only by raising standards across the sector can we start to tackle the small minority whose rogue activities tarnish our reputation. This toolkit is designed to be a ‘one stop shop’ for Local Authorities working with the private rented sector. They are, after all, in the enforcement front line. Working together, we help to make living in the private rented sector a positive experience.”