Lettings industry told to clean up its act
Published by Max Salsbury for 24dash.com in Housing and also in Legal
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The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has published comprehensive guidance to help lettings agents improve their understanding of, and compliance with, consumer protection law.
The guidance follows last year's publication of a report into the lettings market by the CMA’s predecessor, the Office of Fair Trading (OFT), which raised concerns about a number of unsatisfactory practices.
The report identified instances of tenants being hit with unfair and ‘surprise’ fees and charges, poor service and delayed and substandard repairs.
The OFT considered that greater compliance with existing legislation would improve the way the lettings market works.
The guidance advises lettings agents to:
• Ensure that tenants and landlords know what charges and fees they will have to pay and what they are for.
• Avoid using misleading advertising or statements and ensure that the tenant or landlord is given all the information they need at the appropriate time.
• Provide clear information which the tenant needs to know before they move in (such as guarantor and deposit requirements, and the terms and conditions of the tenancy agreement).
• Deal fairly and professionally with tenants and landlords, and using fair contractual terms.
• Ensure that services and repairs are carried out in a timely manner and with reasonable care and skill.
• Give clear and full information to tenants about how to end a tenancy agreement.
The guidance is intended to complement existing and emerging industry schemes and codes of conduct, and is relevant to lettings professionals in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, highlighting national variations in legislation.
Nisha Arora, a senior director at the CMA, said: "Renting a property is a big financial commitment, and it is important that tenants can be confident that their landlord or letting agent will treat them fairly.
"This guidance will help lettings professionals understand how to comply with the law and should ultimately improve overall standards in the market."