All letting agents should be regulated and required to have minimum training qualifications in order to reduce the number of rogue operators in the private rented sector, according to the head of Kingswood Residential Investment Management.
Adam Kingswood, owner of the Nottingham-based firm, supports the government’s “call for evidence” about the planned regulation of letting agents in England.
Kingswood says that he wants to see all lettings agents regulated by an approved industry body in order to clamp down on rogue agents and landlords, as this would in his opinion help to improve the conditions for people within the private rented sector across the UK.
He said: “The 2017 Budget went someway to address the concerns of people who cannot afford to get onto the property ladder. Yes, removing stamp duty for first-time buyers is a helpful first step, but there are still thousands of people in the UK who cannot afford to get onto the housing ladder.
“With the lack of social housing, the country is reliant on the private rented sector to plug the gap and we therefore need much tighter regulation of the sector to ensure standards are high, tenants receive professional service from an agent, have quality rental accommodation and feel secure in their tenancies.”
In the absence of mandatory regulations, reputable letting agencies self-regulate through their voluntary membership of trade associations whose standards often require members to operate at a higher standard than that required by law; such as to have minimum levels of qualifications, client money protection and professional insurances.
But Kingswood points out that in Nottingham, for example, out of 131 letting agents registered on Rightmove, just 23 he claims are ARLA PropertyMark regulated.
He added: “Currently, tenants enjoy very little protection or guarantee of standards within the private rented sector and I believe this needs to change.
“At present, anyone can set up a lettings agency with just ombudsman registration and no government checks or quality assurance testing and, unfortunately, this leads to thousands of people experiencing poor quality rented accommodation or service due to a minority of exploitative landlords or agents.
“I believe that legislation can help change this and drive up standards in the sector for the benefit of the 4.5 million people who are living in rented accommodation in England.”