The OFT says it analysed 4,000 complaints from across the spectrum and found that tenants and landlords were often unhappy about fees charged by agents, the poor service provided and surprise charges that were introduced once contracts had been signed.
OFT officials have now put forward recommendations designed to make the market work better for all concerned. The recommendations include:
• Better compliance with legislation and in particular better up front information. The OFT would like fees to be set out in a clear tariff of charges.
• A general redress mechanism so landlords and tenants can sort out problems when they occur.
• More consistency within the industry so that common principles are applied, such as what information is used for pre-tenancy checks.
• Government, industry, enforcers and consumer bodies to agree a national strategy.
• Agree an enforcement strategy for traders who do not comply with the law.
• Initiatives which make it easier for landlords and tenants to assess quality, such as recognised logos.
• Working with industry and consumer bodies to develop joint educational material such as ‘quick guides’ to help tenants and landlords understand their rights.
The OFT intends to host a series of meetings with parties involved in the lettings industry to discuss its findings and recommendations.
An OFT spokesman said: “Our findings show that tenants and landlords are often dissatisfied with their agents but we also know that most agents want to do the right thing.
“This report sets out our view on what improvements could be made to address concerns with this market and we are keen to play our part in bringing together those involved in the lettings industry to focus efforts where they are most needed.”
Please contact Ingrid Hindle in our Warminster office on 01985 214444 or Sarah Gratton in our Westbury office on 01373 865577 about the issues raised in this article or any aspect of commercial property law. Or email firstname.lastname@example.org.