Landlords, letting agents and management companies working with private rented sector properties are required by law to sign up to a government approved scheme in order to ensure quality within the sector, and could face a fine of up to £5,000 if they do not comply.
The legislation came in to effect on the 1st of October 2014, subject to certain exclusions, and all lettings agents and property managers must sign up to one of three government approved Redress Schemes. The schemes are designed to make it easier for tenants and landlords to complain about poor service and will prevent disputes escalating.
Local authorities will enforce the requirement and will bring about the monetary fine for any organisation that fails to sign up. Manchester City Council’s Executive will seek to approve an amendment to the Corporate Enforcement Policy at a meeting next week in order to allow monetary penalties, which is currently not dealt with through the enforcement policy.
The three government schemes include the Property Redress Scheme, Ombudsman Property Services, and the Property Ombudsman. These Redress Schemes require letting agents to follow a code of practice, to have an in-house complaints procedure and to cooperate with any investigation whilst agreeing to pay compensation promptly, if the Redress Scheme awards it.
Those found unregistered will be given the opportunity to join within 14 days of being contacted by the council, after which a notice to issue a fine will be given. The letting agent or property manager will then have 28 days to produce written representations or objections to the authority. The city council can impose further penalties if the party continues to ignore the scheme.
Deputy Leader of Manchester City Council Councillor Bernard Priest has stated, “Private sector tenants have been woefully under represented when it comes to poor standards in private properties, but we hope the Redress Schemes will allow those residents to take some control back and give a genuine voice for complaints on an independent playing field”.