The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) has published a call for evidence: ‘Protecting consumers in the lettings and managing agent market’.
Government is seeking views on whether there needs to be an overhaul of regulation in the property agent market. They are also considering measures that will empower leaseholders by making it easier for them to choose and switch agents, potentially reducing costs.
Government received over 6,000 responses to its related consultation, 'tackling unfair practices in the leasehold market', which ended last month. See the Law Society response.
On 18 October Sajid Javid, the secretary of state for communities and local government, said ‘This is supposed to be the age of the empowered consumer – yet in property management, we’re still living in the past. I’ve already announced plans to regulate letting agents, including banning fees for tenants. I’ve also made clear that I want to see an end to unjustified use of leasehold in new-build houses. And today I’m setting out a plan to fix the problems in the property agent market.’
The Competition and Markets Authority estimated that service charges alone could total between £2.5 and £3.5 billion per year and government says there are claims that consumers could be overpaying for managing agents services by up to £1.4bn.
This is a welcome opportunity to address concerns about managing agents. Members will have different perspectives on this issue – those practising conveyancing may have concerns about:
- the costs and timing of providing information for buyers, and;
- delays in providing consents to remove restrictions registered at HM Land Registry.
The call for evidence seeks views on whether a new regulatory model is needed for agents in the leasehold sector. The government wants to understand what form regulation of letting and managing agents should take to best protect and empower tenants and leaseholders.
The consultation will run from 18 October to 29 November and the government says it will bring forward detailed proposals early next year.
Respond to the survey directly
Send your views to the Law Society, where they can be considered by the Conveyancing and Land Law and Housing Law Committees in the preparation of the Law Society response.
View the consultation description