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OFT drive to improve lettings regulation

Friday February 15th, 2013

 The Office of Fair Trading has published a report proposing improvements in the lettings market that would benefit both landlords and tenants.

As part of this report OFT analysed nearly 4,000 complaints from people renting and letting out a property. It found that both tenants and landlords were concerned about fees levied by agents, poor service and hidden charges.

The report then sought remedies to these issues, making recommendations for Government, industry, enforcers and others, to increase transparency.

The suggestions included:

• Better compliance with legislation, including up- front information, such as a clear tariff of charges.
• A general redress mechanism for landlords and tenants remedy problems contemporaneously.
• More consistency within industry policy and procedures.
• An agreed a national market strategy.
• Enforcement plan for traders who break the law.
• Quality recognition initiatives, such as recognised logos.
• Educational material to help tenants and landlords understand their rights.

The OFT is hosting a series of events, with lettings industry officials, to discuss its findings and recommendations outlined in the report. It has also committed to review its consumer protection laws for letting agents, and unfair terms in tenancy agreements.

Cavendish Elithorn, Senior Director of Goods and Consumer at the OFT, said: “Our findings shows that tenants and landlords are often dissatisfied with their agents, but we also know that most agents want to do the right thing. It’s important that tenants ask for key information, but we also believe that Government, industry and enforcers working together can have a real impact and improve overall standards in the lettings market.”

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