MIKE COSY - The private rental sector matters

Chartered surveyer Mike Cosy
Chartered surveyer Mike Cosy

PROPERTY Ombudsman Christopher Hamer has urged the Government to introduce some form of regulation in the private rented sector, stating that legislation was the only realistic option.

He considers that Joining an Ombudsman scheme should be the very minimum requirement for entering the lettings industry as an agent.

A great deal of letting agent are not currently a member of the ombudsman service. Unless the letting agent is regulated by RICS or ARLA they do not have to join the ombudsman service.

Estate agents are covered by certain legislation that does not incorporate letting agents. Baroness Hayter, who is a Labour member of the House of Lords is also keen to bring letting agents under the same legislation covering estate agents.

Statistically it has been shown that 53 per cent of all complaints to the Property Ombudsman concerned the lettings market, compared with the sales side that occupies 27 per cent of the Ombudsman’s workload.

As we all know this government has always argued in favour of allowing the business sector in general to police itself.

They believe that their job is to de-clutter the statute books of unnecessary legislation. What is known as “smaller government”.

It seems to me that the burden of making the right choice has been placed on the shoulders of informed consumers to protect themselves. Consumers have to ensure that their letting agent has secured their interest by joining a redress mechanism offered by an ombudsman service.

The danger of dealing with a letting agent who is not regulated by RICS or ARLA is that the letting agent may not have a Client Money Protection scheme in addition to not having a Professional Indemnity Insurance cover.

Unfortunately, some landlords are not aware of the pit falls and may even engage a letting agent that has no local branch or is a one man band answerable to no one.

Some landlords engage an agent that does not advertise in the local paper or has no local office. They do not consider a host of other factors and take unnecessary risk. Does this mean that legislation is needed to compel agents to be regulated and prevent unqualified operators?

Choosing a local regulated agent means, more efficient and more frequent viewing for prospective tenants, wider choice of tenants, easier follow up meetings for the purpose of collecting their references and finally smoother management of the property by a more hands on approach due to proximity of the agency to the property.

n Article written by Mike Cosy of Coseyhomes, trading as Cosey Rentals Chartered Surveyor, Civil Engineer and Building consultant. Cosey rentals is regulated by the RICS