Sep 14

The clock is ticking for letting and managing property agents to join redress scheme

The clock is ticking for letting and managing property agents to join redress scheme

Time is running out for letting and managing agents to comply with the law and sign up to a redress scheme for dealing with complaints from landlords or tenants.

New laws being introduced from the government say that agents in England must join one of three schemes by the deadline of October 1st, 2014. Joining a scheme will be mandatory for letting agents as is the case already in place for estate agents.

The government has introduced the rules to give a cheaper and easier way to make complaints against agents for landlords and tenants.

Agents who fail to join face sanctions and possible prosecution and fines up to £5,000. The scheme can impose financial penalties on agents up to £25,000 in relation to a complaint.

The Department for Communities and Local Government have also introduced other measures to protect tenants including their ‘Help to rent guide’ and a new voluntary code of practice to set standards for the management of property in the private rented sector.

Right to a fair service

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.

“That’s why from 1 October letting agents will need to belong to one of three 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.”

The latest of three government-approved providers is The Property Redress Scheme (PRS).

Property Redress Scheme ombudsman Sean Hooker explained agents who do not join a redress scheme or join and flout redress regulations will not escape sanction.

“We have looked at the industry and have spoken to a number of interested parties and have decided to do certain things a bit differently. First of all, we are offering two membership options to all agents and professionals to ensure that they can join a redress scheme that suits their needs.

“We will share information with the other redress schemes about miscreant agents” he said. “Ultimately they will lose their business if they are denied entry to a redress scheme as a result of multiple misdemeanours.”

How the Property Redress Scheme works

The Property Redress Scheme offers letting agents a two-tier service;

• Tier 1 offers an entry level service for £95 for the head office and for each branch. Agents have 10 working days to deal with complaints. If they remain unresolved, the Property Redress Scheme takes over and charges the letting agent a fee of £60 or £90 for handling the investigation

The lower fee is for agents who are also members of a client money protection scheme

• Tier 2 gives an enhanced service at a cost of £199 for the head office and for each branch. Complaints are dealt with the same way but no additional fees are charged for dealing with investigations

A Tier 2 agent can be moved back to Tier 1 if the enhanced flat fee is considered as not enough for dealing with a high volume of complaints.

To join the PRS, download and complete the membership application form.

Property Redress Scheme

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