Landlords are the wrong target for buy to let regulation

Landlords are the wrong target for buy to let regulation

14:57 PM, 23rd April 2012, About 12 years ago 7

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Landlords are the wrong target for buy to let regulation, according to the latest behind-the-scenes thinking.

Regardless of the rights and wrongs of the ‘rogue’ landlords debate, politicians and law makers are looking at tightening the rules for letting agents.

According to an insider close to the powers-that-be looking at regulating the private rental sector, letting agents are easier to control than landlords.

The main reason is they have an office whereas landlords can live overseas, operate through proxies or limited companies and are often difficult to track down to enforce legal infringements.

Letting agents are more likely to have an office which is open in business hours and allows easier inspection of documents.

“That’s why trading standards officers have a new power to inspect letting agent records under the new energy performance certificate laws,” said our source.

“Letting agents are easier to pin down and carry records for a large number of landlords, so visiting one agent is cheaper, quicker and easier than dealing with lots of landlords.”

The energy performance certificate (EPC) rules that came in to force on April 6, 2012, included an additional power allowing trading standards officers to demand sight of documents from letting agents.

Our source also hinted that the Office of Fair Trading would need some time to see how the new EPC powers work before deciding whether to introduce further regulatory powers against letting agents.

Housing minister Grant Shapps has gone on record several times to state that landlords and letting agents are unlikely to see regulation during this parliament.

However, the move is likely to be high on Labour’s agenda should Ed Milliband win office – the last Labour government had plans in the pipeline for a ‘rate your landlord’ website for tenants and a national licensing scheme for landlords.

Both were scrapped as unnecessary and too expensive by the coalition.

Currently over 3,000 have signed a “Save the buy-to-let mortgage” Government e-petition. There is also an e-petition calling for “Compulsory licensing of Lettings Agents to protect Landlords and Tenants”.

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Don Holmes

21:47 PM, 23rd April 2012, About 12 years ago

I have been a letting agent for 18 years and have always believed that full licencing for our industry could only be good, as it will sort the wheat from chafe, however it must also include legislation that says all Landlords must use a regulated agent, otherwise any legislation would be not only morally floored, but will simply undermine the whole process!
Don Holmes.

5:49 AM, 24th April 2012, About 12 years ago

You must be joking mate;  no way would I or do I need any LA to manage my affairs, regulated or not.
That is the same as telling homeowners they MUST use an Estate Agent when selling their property.
Plus my properties would not be viable paying fees to a reulated LA.
LA need regulating;  LL do not.
Any LL that does not play by the rules would surely be dispensed with by a regulated LA, ..................wouldn't they!!?
Very few wrongun LL would be able to cope without a compliant LA.
These wrongun LL will naturally die away.
Regulated LA would however be perfectly within their rights to ask and require more searching information of their LL clients.
Wrongun LL will try and migrate to online LA; but these will offer tenant source only and then it is up to the wrongun LL to sort it out.
They just won't have the time to do so and if they try and get the online LA to do all the work for them , most likely those LA will, require more info from these LL.
Therefore regulation of LA will or should have a great impact on wrongun LL.

11:04 AM, 24th April 2012, About 12 years ago

As I read it Don's point was that a letting agent should only legally operate if they are a regulated agent rather than saying that landlords should be compelled to use an agent? i.e. as a landlord, if you choose to use an agent, that agent is licensed. No other choice.
This, to me, is the core of regulation. If you have a system where an industry is self-regulated, and there is another industry earning income off the back of various memberships and accreditations, then it is confusing to the end user and there is no clarity and plenty of room for fraudsters. The regulation of the lettings industry is long overdue, it should be one single accreditation, it should be monitored and enforced for all operating agents. Then both tenants and landlords would know who was safe to handle their custom as and when they choose. The current situation merely breeds confusion.

2:26 AM, 25th April 2012, About 12 years ago

Yes I agree Teena; but Grant Schapps has already indicated that there is NO intent to intoduce such regulation of any aspects of the industry in this parliament.

Don says,
'it must include legislation that says all Landlords must use a regulated agent'
That to me is pretty unambiguous.
I think it is down to industry partners to come up with as you suggest ONE scheme.
Get rid of all the others.

14:31 PM, 25th April 2012, About 12 years ago

 Quite so. But one of the blocks to that happening is that each of the 'regulation' schemes currently operating are profit making private businesses in competition with each other and each of them set standards but have no regulatory powers at all. Which is rather a pointless exercise.

7:47 AM, 29th April 2012, About 12 years ago

Not sure about the idea of a rate your landlord website. Would it be like Trip Advisor where anyone can comment and, reportedly, restaurateurs and hoteliers post adverse comments about their rivals? Are there plans for a rate your tenant site, or do landlords still have to rely on the courts to do that?

22:03 PM, 29th April 2012, About 12 years ago

Too true; and as housing is so vital; the profit motive should be withdrawn
There isn't one with the travel ATOL scheme, I think housing is a bit more important, don't you!
I think under the localist agenda every council should introduce a common scheme that all LA have to subscribe to and possibly even LL should be licenced.

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