A new team has been set up to provide greater protection for renters in England from letting agents who charge illegal tenant fees. This follows legislation that will ban tenant fees in the private sector in England from 1 June 2019. The new enforcement team – being led by National Trading Standards – will be responsible for regulating the private rental sector in England, protecting tenants and safeguarding compliant letting agents.
The team will provide a single combined enforcement function to protect consumers and legitimate businesses in the property sector. It brings together new letting agency enforcement work with the existing regulation of estate agents, which has previously been operated by the National Trading Standards Estate Agency Team.
Funded by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, the National Trading Standards Estate & Letting Agency Team will act as the lead enforcement authority for the purposes of the Estate Agents Act 1979 and the Tenant Fees Act 2019. Letting agency regulation (covering England) will be led by Bristol City Council and estate agency enforcement (across the UK) will continue to be operated from Powys County Council. The team will work closely with local authorities who have local enforcement responsibilities.
The team is primarily responsible for the regulation of estate agency work in the UK and letting agency work in England, specifically:
- overseeing the operation of relevant estate and letting agency legislation
- issuing prohibition and formal warning orders to those found unfit to engage in estate agency work in the UK
- approving & overseeing the UK’s consumer redress schemes, Ombudsmen, and Alternative Dispute Resolution entities in the estate agency sector
- issuing guidance and advice for the public, businesses and enforcement authorities on estate agency work in the UK and relevant letting agency work in England.
James Munro, Head of National Trading Standards Estate and Letting Agency Team, said:
“Bringing the two functions - lead enforcement authority for estate agency work and lead enforcement authority for lettings agency work - under one team will mean there is a single point of contact for enforcement work in this area. This single team approach will help us uphold consumers’ rights and enforce the law.”
Housing Minister Heather Wheeler MP said:
“We are determined to make the private rented sector a fairer, more accessible market that works for all and I am delighted that local authorities will now be able to access the best advice and information from this new team. There is no place for unfair fees – now, with this new enforcement authority, we will be able to stamp them out.”
Cllr Steve Pearce, Bristol City Council cabinet member with responsibility for regulatory services, said:
“We are delighted to be hosting this new function and playing our part in delivering a solution that combines both regulatory functions into a joint team that will provide a single coherent regulatory voice and help secure regulatory compliance for consumers.
“This places us at the heart of influencing the government policy to help enhance consumer protection.
“This is a hugely challenging area of regulation and we look forward to playing a leading role assisting enforcement authorities in the course of their duties.”
Notes to Editors
About the National Trading Standards Estate & Letting Agency Team
The National Trading Standards Estate & Letting Agency Team is hosted by Powys County Council (PCC) and Bristol City Council (BCC). The Secretary of State has designated Powys County Council as the lead enforcement authority for the purposes of the Estate Agents Act 1979, and Bristol City Council as the lead enforcement authority for the purposes of the Tenant Fees Act 2019.
About National Trading Standards
- National Trading Standards provides leadership influence, support and resources to help combat consumer and business detriment locally, regionally and nationally
- The National Trading Standards Board is a group of senior and experienced local government heads of trading standards, representing all trading standards services across England and Wales. The Board has been set up by the Government as part of changes to the consumer protection landscape and an enhanced role for trading standards.
- National Trading Standards teams are based within local authority trading standards services
- For more information please visit www.nationaltradingstandards.uk