Renters Rights (August 2015)

I believe that a strong and well regulated private rented sector can contribute positively to meeting the country's housing demands. I appreciate that the actions of a minority of rogue landlords and agents can damage the reputation of the whole industry. However, I am glad that action taken by the Government has already resolved many of the issues you mention in your letter.
I welcome the fact that letting agents are now required to publish full details of the fees they charge. Previously, letting agents only had to list compulsory charges to the tenant and did not face severe enough consequences when found to have imposed hidden charges. Now, letting agents who do not publish full details of fees on their website and prominently in their offices will face a fine. I do not believe that a ban on fees would help - a ban would only drive up fees through the back door and ultimately harm tenants.
Similarly, I do not support a blanket approach to selective licensing or the registration of landlords. This would impose additional costs on the majority of reputable landlords, who would then pass on the costs to their tenant, increasing rents.
You may know that landlords already have responsibility over gas, fire and electrical safety in their properties. The Defective Premises Act 1972 requires landlords to prevent personal injury to tenants living in their properties.
Letting agents and management companies are also now required to join approved redress schemes. This gives tenants the opportunity to complain to an ombudsman and receive compensation if their complaint is upheld. I am confident that this will drive up standards across the sector.

August 2015