Landlord Register Scrapped and No More Regulation Of Letting Agents

News has just come in that the national landlords register proposed by the last government has been scrapped for England and Wales.

I thought the register  might not be a bad idea if it was set up right, unlike the pre-existing Scottish scheme. See my comments on how the scheme north of the border seemed to be a pretty hopeless, costly and pointless exercise by clicking on the categories below this post.

However, I  disagree with the coalition government’s move to junk the plan to regulate letting agencies.

More regulation of letting agencies is needed, especially in relation to making sure tenants deposits are always duly protected in tenancy deposit schemes (and not used as working capital) and ensuring all letting agents provide an acceptable standard of service to both tenants and landlords.

Too many landlords have been caught out when they have become liable to repay tenants deposits because a rogue letting agent did not protect the tenants deposit in a scheme and then went bust, leaving the landlord liable for the tenant’s money.

The government’s move to keep things as they are with respect to the lack of regulation of letting agents is a mistake and the wrong policy in my opinion.

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2 comments

  • LANDLORD V TENANT DEPOSIT DISPUTES
    THE TENANCY DEPOSIT PROTECTION SCHEME
    UK laws on protecting a tenant deposit changed for the good of the tenant in April 2007, when the Tenancy Deposit Protection regulations came into force.
    People taking an Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST) who 1) Pay a Deposit; and 2) whose Deposit can be used if the tenant falls into arrears or messes up the property are owed duties by the landlord (*provided that the annual rental is no more than £25,000 PA, though as of October 1st 2010, that amount will rise to £100,000 PA). They are that the Landlord must pay the deposit into one of the approved schemes and that the Landlord must also give the tenant specific information to his/ her deposit and the scheme into which it is placed. If this is not carried out within a given timeframe, then the tenant can take the Landlord to Court and the Landlord will be forced to pay a set amount of money under a Strict Liability court ruling.
    The Landlord may make defend the claim or even make a counter-claim if they believe that you have breached the terms of the AST, but this cannot be used as mitigation and has nothing to do with the tenant claim. Courts have usually ordered that the Landlord make a separate claim.
    The property that you rented must have been one that you occupied as you main home and one where the Landlord did not live at the property but lived elsewhere. If the Landlord lived at the property, they will not usually have to protect the deposit, although the rules are quite complicated (Paragraph 10 of Schedule 1 of the Housing Act 1988).
    The claim is always against the person who received the deposit, if it was the Landlord, then the claim is against them, if it was an Agent, then they are directly responsible for the deposit. The law says that the ‘Landlord’ includes anybody that is acting on their behalf and if in doubt, sue the Landlord. If there is more than one of them, make a claim against them all. Note that the address has to be in England or Wales. If you are unsure of who the responsible person is, make the claim against the Landlord.
    You can find out who the Landlord (registered proprietor) is by asking the person to whom you pay the rent. They have a duty to provide the information to you within 21 days, failure to do so is a Criminal Offence under UK law. Many Landlords try to hide their details through their Agent but the Agent cannot refuse to provide the information that you request.
    The legislation is to protect tenants in the UK and not provide them with a windfall payment. However it has been shown that the Courts do not take kindly to Landlords that wilfully ignore, or seem to wilfully ignore the basic and simple regulations.
    26.4.10
    AUTHOR – Kenni James
    http://www.RecoverMyDeposit.co.uk – FREE and professional legal advice for UK tenants
    0800 542 4886

    • David Lawrenson

      Thanks for the comment.
      The point I was really trying to make was that there has been many instances where the letting agent went bust and had taken the deposit money but not ring fenced the deposit in a separate account, thus leaving the landlord in the lurch. This is not right and needs to be dealt with by regulating this.
      Unless the letting agent has been trading for a long time and is well established and / or is a member of a recognised scheme, I would advise landlords to make sure they protect the deposit themselves.

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