Will There be a Mandatory Property Redress Scheme for UK Landlords?
The government has dropped its biggest hint yet that a mandatory property redress scheme for UK landlords is on the way. Currently, all letting agents have to sign up to a government-approved scheme that mediates between them and tenants in the event of any issues, but the housing minister in the House of Lords, Lord Greenhalgh, told that chamber that the government is determined to extend that to private landlords too.
But what are these organisations and how would a private landlord redress scheme work? Keep reading to find out more about this potential legislation.
What is a Property Redress Scheme?
A property redress scheme is an independent third party to whom tenants can escalate complaints against letting agents. They act as a mediator in situations where the agent and tenant cannot resolve the matter between themselves.
Currently, all letting agents in England and Wales, and estate agents across the UK, must sign up to join one of two redress schemes. These are:
Agents pay a membership fee to join one of these entities as a legal requirement, laid down in the Letting Agency Work and Property Management Work (Approval and Designation of Schemes) (England) Order 2013.
The tenant can complain if they feel the agent has failed to perform their legal duty, breached the tenant’s rights, failed to adhere to their code of conduct or internal rules, treated the tenant unfairly, carried out a transaction without the efficiency expected or caused the tenant to suffer a financial loss or unnecessary aggravation, stress or inconvenience. The scheme must decide if there is a genuine complaint and what action to take to resolve it in a mutually agreeable way. If the parties still cannot agree, the head of redress makes a final ruling on the outcome.
An agent can face a fine of up to £5,000 for failing to register with a property redress scheme, and they can even have their licence revoked.
How Will a Private Landlord Redress Scheme Work?
When it comes to a private landlord redress scheme, things are less clear. There is no concrete legal proposal yet, only the word of Lord Greenhalgh. Potential sticking points would be whether it was necessary for a landlord to join a redress scheme if their property was managed by a letting agent who was already a member. In addition, if both landlords and letting agents were compelled to sign up, what would happen if they were members of different schemes? Which scheme would the tenant make their complaint to?
With nearly half of the nation’s 2.66 million private landlords making use of letting agents, that does leave more than a million working independently. Lord Greenhalgh says that, for the tenants of these landlords, access to a property redress scheme will bring peace of mind. “This will ensure that all tenants have access to redress where they have a legitimate complaint about their home,” stated the peer, “and will also make it easier for private landlords to understand their obligations.”
Common Tenant Complaints
Common tenant complaints include:
● Landlord not carrying out essential repairs
● Unannounced visits from the landlord
● Maintenance concerns
● Property not being clean at the start of the tenancy.
The above complaints could all lead to a referral to a property redress scheme if they spiralled out of control and there was poor communication between landlord and tenant. This is where outsourcing can solve a problem. When we take on your property management, we ensure the maintenance and repairs are performed swiftly and effectively, in line with the obligations to give notice to enter the property. We also provide a host of other services that prevent your property headaches and make your life easier. Contact us today to find out more.