One of Britain’s largest local authorities has beefed up its powers so it can issue fines of up to £5,000 on letting agents who flout the law and do not join one of three approved redress schemes.
Until now Manchester council’s Corporate Enforcement Policy did not allow it to fine agents who had not joined either Ombudsman Services Property, the Property Redress Scheme or The Property Ombudsman.
Legislation making it obligatory for agents to be in one of the schemes came into effect on 1 October last year but only now can the council impose monetary penalties.
Manchester now promises that “proactive checks of mandatory membership will be undertaken as part of licence applications for Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) and the city council will continue to investigate complaints received against unregistered landlords, agents and property managers” it says.
Those found unregistered will be given one opportunity to join within 14 days of being contacted by the council, after which a notice to issue a fine will be issued.
The agent or property manager will then have 28 days to make written representations or objections to the authority. The council can impose further penalties if the party continues to fail to join a scheme.
“Private sector tenants have been woefully under-represented when it comes to poor standards in private properties, but we hope the redress schemes will allow those residents to take some control back and give a genuine voice for complaints,” says a council spokesman.