Yorkshire residential letting specialists welcome new crackdown on rogue agents

A Yorkshire letting agent which has championed a crackdown on unscrupulous operators in the property rental sector has welcomed new laws that protect landlords and tenants.

Linley & Simpson, an independent agency with a network of ten offices across West and North Yorkshire, said making it mandatory – rather than voluntary – to be part of an approved redress scheme was a “long-awaited” step forward.

Failure to sign-up to one of the three schemes is a criminal offence under the new legislation and could result in a fine of up to £5,000.

“This is a much-needed wake-up call for those agents who fly by the seat of their pants with scant regard to providing a quality service,” said director Will Linley.

“Many reputable agents have chosen to join industry accreditation schemes, giving their clients peace of mind that their money, whether it be deposits or monthly rental payments, is safeguarded and that there is a commitment to excellent customer service,

“Yet there is research that revealed that in a sector that is unregulated – anyone can set up as a letting agent – as many as 40 per cent of agents have not joined such a scheme.

“Nobody books a holiday with a travel agent who is not properly accredited and registered – but, as ever-increasing numbers of tenants and landlords are finding to their cost, this isn’t always the case in the rental market where the stakes are far higher.

“The new laws are a step in the right direction – if not the end solution to the problem of rogue operators.

“They will help bring all agents in line and if properly policed will drive up standards among those in the sector who so far have shunned the idea of joining an approved redress scheme. From now, that option no longer exists.”

The crackdown comes as the rental sector approaches what is traditionally its busiest period of the year in the run-up to Christmas – and at a time when the private rental sector is growing rapidly.

Latest figures show there are now 3.84m households privately renting in England, compared with 1.9m in 2001 – and the figure is increasing.

Landlords will be required to sign up to one of the three Government- approved schemes run by the Property Ombudsman, Ombudsman Services: Property, and The Property Redress Scheme.

The clampdown also extends to relocation agents and property management companies.

Mr Linley added: “Most tenants and landlords are happy with the service they get from their letting agents but in the small number of cases where people have justifiable complaints these should be addressed quickly and effectively.

“In principle, the new laws should make this happen. The industry will be keeping a close eye on matters to make sure it happens in practice too.

“So, whether you’re a landlord or tenant looking to do business with an agent, before you do so make sure you check they’re a member of one of the recognised redress schemes.

“That way, should the agent fail in their duties, you will have the peace of mind of knowing that they can be held accountable for their failings.

“And if they’re not members of one of the schemes, then definitely think twice before entering into any business relationship with that agent.”

Linley & Simpson has a network of offices covering Leeds city centre, Roundhay, Horsforth, Harrogate, Ripon, Wetherby, York, Ilkley, Saltaire and Wakefield.

Will Linley
Will Linley

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