The government is to introduce measures for the regulation of leasehold property management, Communities Secretary Sajid Javid has revealed.
His department is now seeking views on whether “a new regulatory model is needed for agents in the leasehold sector” and “what form regulation of letting and managing agents should take to best protect and empower tenants and leaseholders”.
The proposals set out by Sajid take a three-pronged approach to regulate the management of leasehold properties.
This will include measures to bring in regulation of managing agents, measures to protect consumers from unfair costs and overpriced service charges, and ways to give leaseholder more “say over their agent”.
The Communities minister also wants to know if a new independent regulatory body for the property management sector.
This is because, the Department of Communities and Local Government says, the sector is only “partly self-regulated” through the Association of Residential Managing Agents (ARMA) and ARLA Propertymark through their codes of conduct. Agents who are not members are not therefore covered by these codes and this “can provide a poor deal for consumers”.
“This is supposed to be the age of the empowered consumer – yet in property management, we’re still living in the past,” says Sajid.
“Today we are showing our determination to give power back to consumers so they have the service they expect and deserve, as part of my drive to deliver transparency and fairness for the growing number of renters and leaseholders.
“Our proposed changes to regulate the industry will give landlords, renters and leaseholders the confidence they need to know that their agents must comply with the rules.”
Other measures to be included as part of the call for evidence include:
- Giving leaseholders a greater say over the appointment of managing agents.
- Greater transparency so that tenants and leaseholders know what they are being charged and why.
- Forcing freeholders and agents to be more fair and open about their relationship
- Reviewing the qualifications agents should have and how regulations can be improved
Sajid also confirmed several of the points made during his Conservative Party conference speech earlier this month. This includes consulting with the judiciary on a new Housing Court for tenants and landlords, and that the lettings fee ban will go ahead, with new legislation to be announced soon.
Propertymark calls for sales agents to be included
“ARLA and NAEA Propertymark welcome this announcement; we have long called for greater regulation of the housing sector,” David Cox, Chief Executive, ARLA Propertymark (pictured, left) and Mark Hayward, Chief Executive, NAEA Propertymark, have said in a joint statement.
“It will give consumers greater control over who manages their property, create long needed transparency, and raise the bar for those wishing to work in the housing sector. However, it’s concerning that estate agents don’t fall under the Government’s initial scope – we urge ministers to widen the remit to include the whole housing market.
“We are committed to ensuring consumers receive the best level of service when looking to buy, sell, rent or lease a property. Our members are required to have deposit and client money protection schemes in place and undertake regular training. However this doesn’t stop some rogue agents from giving the industry a bad name. Blanket regulation is the right approach if we are to give consumers the confidence they deserve and reassurance that they will be treated fairly, no matter which agent they use.”