Last week Eric Pickles, Minister for Communities & Local Government announced his plans for the Private Rented Sector. The plans are not solely aimed at the private landlords, but will include improving processes & procedures within local authorities, increasing housing stock by encouraging housebuilding and ensuring that existing legislation such as The Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 and The Mortgage Repossessions (Protection of Tenants etc) Act 2010 are fully implemented and understood.

Although the focus is the private landlord, there is emphasis on the role of the letting agent. As the consumer may or may not be aware, the letting agent is instructed by the landlord either on a Let Only basis or instructed to fully manage a property.

At the moment anyone can set up as a letting agent or property manager. There is no requirement in place to be a member of a professional body, to hold any type of insurance, to invest in professional development, to use a particular type of paperwork. In short it is a free for all and although there has been a lot of critcism toward Eric Pickles and what seems to be a “light touch” approach to legislation, I feel that the tide is definitely changing.

This year alone agents have dealt with the updates to Gas Regulation, various case law (Johnson v Old, Superstrike v Rodrigues), the the ASA ruling against YourMove.co.uk. There are many agents who have no idea that any of the above has even happened, so the landlord is left uninformed and in some circumstances, at risk.

The Private Rented Sector is a challenging industry, heavily legislated already on the part of the landlord, but it is clear that the industry needs an overhaul and the plans outlined by Pickles are just the beginning. Following on hot on his heels are the measures to be in put in place by Boris Johnson for the Greater London Authority.

Agents are criticised across the board, however, we work with clients who are qualified (want to be, not have to be), who want to be compliant, who provide a good service to their consumers and who feel that working in the industry is not a hobby but a career to be proud. Al of our clients have no issue with the announcement because Pickles is preaching from a song sheet they already know off by heart.

Susie Crolla – the Guild of Letting & Management Limited