A week before the House of Commons is due to vote on a change to the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform bill that will see letting agents forced to sign up to a compulsory redress scheme, Conservative mayor of London Boris Johnson has lent his support to the campaign.
Whilst estate agents are legally required to belong to a redress scheme, such as the Property Ombudsman, this is not currently the case for letting agents. However, a change to the bill was voted through the House of Lords last month, lending a great deal of momentum to a campaign that would likely see most or all rogue letting agents forced out of the private rental sector.
Previously, Mr Johnson had been against adding ‘more red tape’ to the sector, despite news in February that complaints to letting agents had more than doubled in half a decade and now comprise more than half of the Property Ombudsman’s total workload. His concerns also mirrored that of the current government, who have been urged almost unanimously by industry regulators, consumer groups and political parties to increase letting agent regulation.
Mr Johnson’s change in attitude is likely to be of great relief to many landlords and tenants in the capital, whose businesses and homes respectively rely on a number of letting agents – some 40% of whom it is estimated do still not belong to any redress scheme and instead ‘self-regulate’.
The deputy mayor for housing, Richard Blakeway, said that too many letting agents in London still do not take their responsibilities seriously enough. He added that the proposed amendment to the bill would give peace of mind to private tenants and “create a more competitive market” for letting agents.