According to a report published last week by the Commons communities and local government committee, the government should make lettings firms subject to the same regulation as estate agents, including giving the Office of Fair Trading the power to ban rogue agents and forcing all agents to have Client Money Protection insurance.
Clive Betts, chairman of the committee, said, “Amazingly, letting agents are subject to less control than estate agents. This lack of regulation is giving rise to sharp practice and abuse by some.”
It is the strongest call for regulation thus far, and has been openly supported by ARLA, NALS, Which? and SAFEagent.
ARLA managing director Ian Potter said, “We wholeheartedly welcome the CLG committee’s recommendations. We hope the Government will introduce meaningful regulation of the sector as soon as possible.”
The report also recommended cracking down on “hidden and unreasonable letting fees”, and ensuring that property listings and advertisements give full details of fees a tenant would be required to pay.
The government has so far resisted the widespread lobbying for regulation from consumer and industry groups, but with this latest report, the pressure is building up.