Ajay Jagota

Member Article

Rogue agent regulation: genuine protection a must

A leading North East property expert has welcomed government moves to regulate rogue lettings agents for the first time – but warned that while their efforts “don’t miss the point, they may miss the target”.

Housing Minister Mark Prisk this week approved an amendment to the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Billforcing letting agents to register with an approved redress scheme with the ability to investigate complaints and award compensation.

Ajay Jagota of KIS Lettings believes any detailed proposals that follow the announcement must offer tenants and landlords alike “genuine protection, not protection for appearance’s sake” and must also take care not to “scapegoat, sanction or slander the 99.999% of lettings agents who have never been accused or convicted of anything”.

Ajay, who manages properties for some 700 landlords across the North East from branches in Sunderland, North Tyneside and South Tyneside said:

“Tenants deserve protection - no credible landlord or lettings agent thinks otherwise – and an effective redress scheme will not only give all parties both protection and peace of mind but will recognise the reality of Generation Rent.

“No-one wants to see rogue agents ripping off landlords, making tenants’ lives miserable and bringing shame to honest, ethical and responsible lettings professionals but the government must make sure that the remedies they bring forward offer all parties genuine protection, not protection for appearance’s sake.

“We must remember that figures released this week show that in the last 12 months only 12 lettings agents have actually been prosecuted by trading standards – relating to only0.00035% of privately rented households.

“If this figure is not a genuine indication of the scale of the problem, the redress scheme must have the resources to back up the significant legal safeguards which already exist to protect landlords and tenants. If it is, the government must ensure they do nothing to unfairly scapegoat, sanction or slander the 99.999% of lettings agents who have never been accused or convicted of anything.

“These proposals as they stand do nothing to stamp out rogue landlords. My fear is that while the government’s efforts don’t miss the point, they may miss the target as most residential lettings are not arranged through an agent but directly through the landlord. How is this system going to protect them?

“We mustn’t lose sight of the fact that the vast majority of lettings agents do everything by the book and are just as concerned about rogue operators as everyone else– that’s why so many lettings professionals are already voluntarily registered with the Property Ombudsman.”

This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by Ajay Jagota .

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