Despite being warned of a spate of crooked letting agents, the Government has said it does not believe that all letting agents should be made to have client money protection insurance and belong to an Ombudsman scheme.
Confirmation of the Government’s stance came in a letter to the chief executive of the Association of Residential Letting Agents, Peter Bolton King.
He had written to housing minister Grant Shapps after a number of letting agents went out of business taking with them money belonging to landlords and tenants.
He wrote pointing out some of the recent cases, but has now received a reply which he describes as “not unexpected”.
The Government has repeatedly said it does not want to regulate letting agents, despite some notorious cases of theft and fraud – some of which are ongoing.
The reply from the Department of Communities and Local Government said:
“As you are aware, the lettings industry is not subject to statutory regulation; however, it is in the interests of the industry to maintain consumer confidence in the services provided and we look to organisations such as NFoPP [National Federation of Property Professionals, of which ARLA is a part] to take a lead in that work.”
“As part of this, the Department continues to explore with its industry partners how best to counter poor practice by letting and managing agents without resorting to regulation.”
“As you will also be aware, between a third and a half of agents belong to voluntary schemes which ensure that members have the right protections for consumers in place.”
“We always suggest that anyone considering using a letting agent checks to see that they belong to a trade body or accreditation scheme such as the Association of Residential Letting Agents, the National Association of Estate Agents, the National Approved Letting Scheme or the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors.”
“In view of the existence of well developed voluntary regulation in the sector, Ministers do not believe that regulation is the answer at present. But they are keeping a watching brief, and information about poor practice is always useful in that context.”
Bolton King said: “While I am pleased that they continue to understand the benefits of using one of our members, they are clearly not yet swayed by the argument that all lettings agents should have CMP and belong to a redress scheme.”