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A new team has been set up to provide greater protection for renters in England from letting agents who charge illegal tenant fees. This follows legislation that will ban tenant fees in the private sector in England from 1 June 2019. The new enforcement team – being led by National Trading Standards – will be responsible for regulating the private rental sector in England, protecting tenants and safeguarding compliant letting agents.
The team will provide a single combined enforcement function to protect consumers and legitimate businesses in the property sector. It brings together new letting agency enforcement work with the existing regulation of estate agents, which has previously been operated by the National Trading Standards Estate Agency Team.
Funded by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, the National Trading Standards Estate & Letting Agency Team will act as the lead enforcement authority for the purposes of the Estate Agents Act 1979 and the Tenant Fees Act 2019. Letting agency regulation (covering England) will be led by Bristol City Council and estate agency enforcement (across the UK) will continue to be operated from Powys County Council. The team will work closely with local authorities who have local enforcement responsibilities.
The team is primarily responsible for the regulation of estate agency work in the UK and letting agency work in England, specifically:
James Munro, Head of National Trading Standards Estate and Letting Agency Team, said: “Bringing the two functions – lead enforcement authority for estate agency work and lead enforcement authority for lettings agency work – under one team will mean there is a single point of contact for enforcement work in this area. This single team approach will help us uphold consumers’ rights and enforce the law.”
David Cox, Chief Executive, ARLA Propertymark comments on news that Bristol Trading Standards will be the Lead Enforcement Authority for the private rental sector: “We welcome today’s announcement of the Lead Enforcement Authority, and hope this is a major step forward in improving enforcement in the private rented sector. At the moment, there is a severe lack of prosecution in the industry, allowing rogue agents to operate and thrive. We look forward to building a constructive working relationship with the Lead Enforcement Authority to eliminate these agents from the sector once and for all.”
Housing Minister Heather Wheeler MP said: “We are determined to make the private rented sector a fairer, more accessible market that works for all and I am delighted that local authorities will now be able to access the best advice and information from this new team. There is no place for unfair fees – now, with this new enforcement authority, we will be able to stamp them out.”
Cllr Steve Pearce, Bristol City Council cabinet member with responsibility for regulatory services, said: “We are delighted to be hosting this new function and playing our part in delivering a solution that combines both regulatory functions into a joint team that will provide a single coherent regulatory voice and help secure regulatory compliance for consumers.
“This places us at the heart of influencing the government policy to help enhance consumer protection.
“This is a hugely challenging area of regulation and we look forward to playing a leading role assisting enforcement authorities in the course of their duties.”
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