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RICS calls for greater regulation of lettings sector

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by Jan Harris
RICS calls for greater regulation of lettings sector

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (Rics) is calling for the lettings sector to be more tightly regulated, to prevent lettings agents from charging unlawful fees.

With many people unable to afford to buy a property in the current economic climate, the rental market is booming and research by Rics suggests that tenants need greater protection.

Under current rules, letting agents are not required to have any formal qualifications, they are not required to conform to a code of conduct and many have little understanding of housing law.

In England, two thirds of the 1,000 people who have rented a home in the last two years were not given an inventory when they moved in.

Mandatory tenancy deposit schemes have been introduced to protect tenants’ deposits but Rics says there are still gaps in regulation.

Rics Scotland director Sarah Speirs said: “At present lettings agents are not required to abide by a government, ombudsman or regulatory body code of practice – demonstrating a lack of legal responsibility.”

In a recent report, housing charity Shelter said that a quarter of tenants believe they have been charged unfairly for services such as credit checks and contract renewals.

Tenants have complained about being charged more than £150 for annual credit checks, which cost between £8 and £25 to perform, and some have been charged hundreds of pounds for administration fees.

Peter Bolton King, global residential director for RICS, said the organisation want the Government to introduce “a single regulatory and redress system for both sales and lettings agents to make sure they are fully accountable”.

The high demand for rented accommodation has caused rents to increase to an average of £744 a month in England and Wales, according to a recent report from LSL Property Services.

In October rents were 3.4 per higher than they were a year ago.

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News posted: November 22, 2012

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