Plans to introduce a new rental complaints system to help support private tenants who are forced to live in shoddy housing and squalid conditions have been welcomed by a leading letting agent.
In the private rented sector, there is currently no obligation for landlords to register with a complaints system, and that is simply wrong, according to Paul Sloan, operations director at Spicerhaart Lettings.
Consequently, Sloan has welcomed the proposals unveiled last month by the housing secretary, Sajid Javid, that aims to create a simple and effective complaints system that enables disputes to be resolved faster and consumers to access compensation where applicable.
An eight-week consultation on a new scheme to crack down on rogue landlords renting out overcrowded and dangerous homes is currently underway.
Sloan commented: “Agents must be members of an independent redress scheme, so it’s only right that landlords that don’t use agents should have to sign up to a redress scheme too. I have argued for some time that it’s not right that tenants who rent through a professional agent get one level of service, while those who rent directly from a landlord experience an inferior one. Although, I appreciate that there are a large number of excellent landlords that look after their tenants extremely well.
“The government has promised to make client money protection mandatory for agents, and those of us that have been supporters of SAFEagent will be delighted when that happens. But again, there needs to be a level playing field. Why should a tenant’s money not be protected if they rent directly from a landlord? The same rules must apply.
“A single ombudsman can work and will help with consistency of adjudication, but it must be properly resourced.
“However, having said that, we should be careful about the blame game. Some tenants complain about landlords that are behaving perfectly reasonably, and this fascination for naming and shaming is dangerous.
“The criteria for calling landlords, agents and housebuilders’ ‘rogue’ needs to be very carefully thought through and entirely objective otherwise it could be very damaging.”