A new code for letting agents

The Association of Residential Letting Agents (Arla) is introducing a licensing scheme for its UK members and a code of practice for all agents. It says there are too may “cowboy agents” exploiting both tenants and landlords.

Arla says it will promote higher industry standards and put an end of the rental sector being seen as the “black sheep of the property market”.

The scheme will ensure that agents hold a professional letting qualification, undertake onong training and that any client money is protected.

The consumer magazine, Which ?, said most complaints it received were about poor living conditions and problems with landlords not putting deposits into the statutory deposit scheme. Which? Would like to see all agents and landlords required to join a compulsory complaints scheme.

However, the regime applies only to Arla members, with the national Association of Estate Agents planning to launch its own scheme later this year.

David Alexander of the Glasgow- and Edinburgh- based letting agents, D J Alexander, said: “We have had a landlord registration scheme in Scotland for three years and this requires all letting agents as well as landlords to register with the appropriate local authorities. So what Arla are proposing for England is already a fact of life in Scotland”.

The charity, Shelter, said it was “high time the government acted to introduce statutory licensing for all letting agents”.

Deposits are already covered by the tenancy deposit scheme and any disputes over the return of a deposit must be settled by a third partly.

SUNDAY HERALD, 10 May 2009