Letting agents: are you trading legally?
Letting agents are reminded they must belong to The Property Ombudsman or the Property Redress Scheme – or face a £5,000 fine for trading illegally.
If a letting agent was formally signed up to Ombudsman Services: Property – which withdrew from the housing market on August 7 – they should have already moved to another scheme.
Despite being warned they would have to register with another scheme, a number of letting agents were found to have not made the switch by the date of the deadline.
Ombudsman Services has said it would send names to regulator, the National Trading Standards Estate Agency Team (NTSEAT), for further investigation.
Last month, James Munro of NTSEAT said the body was “working with local Trading Standards and housing teams along with the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government to ensure that letting agents have switched to valid redress schemes.”
Both The Property Ombudsman and the Property Redress Scheme provide independent support to landlords and tenants w
ho are dissatisfied with how they were treated by their letting agent.
The redress schemes work as an alternative to court action. If a consumer is unhappy with their letting agent’s service, they can file a complaint to the scheme, which will attempt to resolve the issue.
If the scheme fails to settle the dispute it will make a finding and, if they conclude the agent to be at fault, can award the claimant up to £25,000.
Rewards are not always financial, however; a scheme may order the letting agent to issue a formal apology or explanation to the landlord or tenant.