Market Research Shows UK Property Rental Industry Urgently Needs Regulation

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30th November 2012 15:20 - Housing


The latest consumer letting survey by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) has discovered that the rental market is becoming the property industry's 'Wild West' due to insufficient regulation.

People desperate to find accommodation during the current rental boom are being put at risk by rogue letting agents who are not required by law to conform to any code of conduct, provide safeguards or register with a Government-approved redress system.

Four out of five renters who were surveyed are in the dark about this - they believed lettings agents are required to abide by a Government, ombudsman or regulatory body code of practice, which also suggests a lack of accessible information about the legal requirements for lettings agents.

While a total of 87% of renters support a single compulsory regulation scheme for all letting agents, two thirds of those surveyed said they did not even receive an inventory when moving into a property, leaving them open to deposit disputes.

If compulsory regulations for lettings agents were to be introduced, 89% of the respondents think there would be better protection for tenants regarding unethical and unfair practices, 84% felt there would be an overall improvement in the level of service provided by letting agents and 83% said there would be greater consumer understanding of the process involved in renting property.

Global Residential Director at RICS, Peter Bolton King, commented: "Choosing the wrong agent can result in tenants encountering all sorts of problems such as lost deposits, broken agreements and excessive charges. What we would like to see is the Government taking direct action on this and introducing a single regulatory and redress system for both sales and lettings agents to make sure they are fully accountable.

Until this happens, we recommend that tenants use a lettings agency that is a member of a professional organisation, such as the RICS."

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