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Bristol City Council to lead on lettings enforcement

Thursday 18 April 2019

Bristol City Council has been announced as the Lead Enforcement Authority for letting agents operating in England. The new Lead Enforcement Authority follows its counterpart for UK-wide estate agency, which is headed by Powys County Council.

Bristol City Council will spearhead letting agent enforcement, with aims to combat agents who charge illegal tenant fees and to provide greater protection for renters in England. The introduction of better targeted enforcement follows recent legislative change, the Tenant Fees Act 2019, which gives authority to the Secretary of State to assign a Trading Standards office in England to be the Lead Enforcement Authority for relevant letting agency legislation. The Tenant Fees Act will ban most fees charged to tenants in England from 1 June 2019.

What is the team’s role?

National Trading Standards Estate and Letting Agency 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 and 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.

Going forward

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 with enforcement responsibilities.

Lead Enforcement Authority

  • 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.

New letting agency enforcement work will inter-link with the existing regulation of estate agents, which has previously been operated by the National Trading Standards Estate Agency Team.

Commenting on the announcement, David Cox, Chief Executive of ARLA Propertymark: “We welcome today’s announcement of the Lead Enforcement Authority and hope this is a major step forward in improving enforcement in the private rented sector.

“At the moment, there is a severe lack of prosecution in the industry, allowing rogue agents to operate and thrive. We look forward to building a constructive working relationship with the Lead Enforcement Authority to eliminate these agents from the sector once and for all.”

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 stated: “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.”

Further information is available at www.ntselat.uk and www.nationaltradingstandards.uk.  

ARLA Propertymark resources

As part of our Tenant Fees Toolkit, which breaks down the Tenant Fees Ban, ARLA Propertymark members can now access the Lead Enforcement Authority Fact Sheet which incorporates these changes and further explains what this will mean for letting agents operating in England.