Letting agents have until 1 October 2014 to register with 1 of 3 redress schemes, to ensure tenants and leaseholders have a straightforward option to hold their agents to account.

Anyone who feels they get a poor deal from their letting agent will then be able to take their complaint to the redress scheme, and could receive compensation.

The schemes are run by The Property Ombudsman, Ombudsman Services Property and the Property Redress Scheme.

The vast majority of letting agents are already signed up to one of these 3 redress schemes – but Mr Lewis today (5 September 2014) urged the remaining minority to sign up, before it becomes a legal requirement on 1 October.

Housing Minister Brandon Lewis said:

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

“That’s why from 1 October letting agents will need to belong to 1 of 3 approved redress schemes. This will mean that anyone who feels they are not being treated fairly will have somewhere to go with their concerns – and could receive compensation.

“I’m pleased to see that already the vast majority of letting agents have signed up – but with 1 month to go before it becomes a legal requirement, I would urge those who haven’t done so yet to follow suit.”

Other measures being introduced to protect tenants include:
•a new voluntary code of practice to set standards for the management of property in the private rented sector
•a new Help to Rent guide, which helps tenants understand what they should expect from their rental deal and how they can take action if they are the victim of poor standards of accommodation
•the introduction of a model tenancy agreement, which landlords and tenants can use for longer tenancies if they wish, which will provide extra security and stability for families
•extra guidance for local councils on how to tackle the small minority of rogue landlords, protect tenants from illegal eviction and how best to push for harsher penalties before magistrates for housing offences where these have a real impact on peoples’ lives.

Any letting agent not signed up to one of the 3 approved redress schemes will face a fine of up to £5,000.