27 August 2014
A leading residential lettings expert has warned that the market has been left open to 'cowboys' after the new Government's decision not to press ahead with plans to regulate the sector.
Will Linley, whose company Linley & Simpson is Yorksh
He has written to the minister urging a rethink and for the long-awaited regulation to go ahead.
Mr Linley said: "This U-turn is another missed opportunity to clean up the industry in an unprecedented way. Compulsory licensing would be easy to achieve and deliver far-reaching protection to customers.
"There are professional bodies, such as ARLA, already setting the standard; membership of such a body should be mandatory for all agents. At the moment, anybody or any organisation can set up as a letting agent.
"Until that is changed by a licensing system, then unqualified, unethical and unprofessional operators will continue to operate, putting people's money at risk."
He said Linley & Simpson, which last month was crowned the UK's best small letting agent chain at the industry's 'Oscars', was keen to demonstrate its commitment to raising industry standards through its membership of the Association of Residential Letting Agents, the National Approved Letting Scheme and the Property Ombudsman.
Mr Linley emphasised that a mandatory licensing scheme was the only way to raise standards across the letting industry.
He added: "The last year has seen a rise in the number of reported cases where some rogue agents have used customers' money as an overdraft or, worse still, absconding with it completely. Many hard-working tradespeople have been left a trail of unpaid bills."
Mr Shapps's decision was welcomed by the National Landlords' Association, which described the national plans for a national register of landlords as "well-meaning but flawed."