Improve regulation for ‘cowboy’ letting agents, MPs say
Councils should be granted greater freedom to raise standards in the private rented sector, ministers have said.
Regulation for letting agents should be bought up to that of estate agents, with greater action taken to protect tenants from hidden fees and unreasonable costs, according to the Communities and Local Government Committee.
While the private rental sector has seen extensive growth recently, the committee warned the market remains relatively immature and should see legislation consolidated and simplified.
Councils should be freed from centrally imposed ‘bureaucracy’ on licensing schemes, the review said, receiving powers to force landlords to be included on a recognised accreditation programme.
The report urged the Government to work with groups representing landlords, tenants and agents to launch a standardised, accessible tenancy agreement which would act as the basis for all tenancy agreements.
Chair of the Communities and Local Government Committee, Clive Betts, said: ‘Amazingly letting agents are subject to less control than estate agents. This lack of regulation is giving rise to sharp practice and abuse by some letting agents.
‘We were told that the letting sector was the property industry’s “Wild West”. “Cowboy” agents who rip off landlords and tenants have to be stopped. They need to play by new rules or get out of the sector.
‘Councils should be given greater flexibility to develop approaches to licensing, accreditation, and enforcement that meet the needs of their areas. There should be heavy penalties for non-compliance.’
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