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Letting agents have turned up the heat on the government to regulate the private rental sector another notch.
The spat is over who controls letting agents by managing accreditation.
The Association of Residential letting Agents (ARLA) is the self-proclaimed arbitrator of standards because their organisation has operated for longer than most and also has more professional members – around 6,500 letting agents.
The prize is which organisation is paid to run accreditation if the government decides to regulate the industry.
ARLA is finding its position is eroding as a number of large letting agent chains have set up a rival scheme – SafeAgent – that has clocked up more than a thousands members in less than six months.
The government has also repeatedly announced no landlord or letting agent regulation is envisaged in the near future – the last occasion was a couple of weeks back in a letter to ARLA.
The letter also pointed out that between a third and half of all letting agents belong to ARLA – putting the number in the UK at between 13,000 and 20,000 – and that the industry seems to have effective self-regulation.
Now the Communities and Local Government Department has trodden on ARLA’s toes again by issuing a series of fact sheets for landlords and tenants
ARLA claims housing minister Grant Shapps is undermining the groups work by failing to regulate.
Operations manager Ian Potter said: “We are disappointed that the housing minister has once again refused to implement any kind of regulation on the private rental sector.
“There is no requirement for lettings agents or landlords themselves to take any kind of professional qualification. This means their professionalism cannot be guaranteed. In today’s market, when people are becoming increasingly desperate to find a home, there will be increasing opportunity for unethical operators to take advantage of consumers.
“We have worked hard to introduce a licensing scheme for letting agents to boost consumer protection among our members and we would recommend any consumer uses an ARLA licensed agent. All licensed ARLA members offer consumer redress for service failure and client money protection should the agent default with its client funds.”
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