The National Approved Letting Scheme has created a toolkit which it says will help local authorities tackle rogue letting agents who fail to comply with the law.
The scheme claims that public spending cuts have left some local authorities without specialist knowledge and skills to effectively regulate the private rented sector.
NALS says in a press release that as a result only 16 per cent of local authorities have issued any civil penalties for failure to comply with redress scheme membership – although a footnote to the release reveals the research producing this figure involved only 37 councils and was conducted in August and September 2015.
The NALS toolkit includes warning letters to agents failing to comply with legal duties, advice on serving civil penalties and even advice on highlighting enforcement action to the local media. The kit highlights to local authorities the requirement by law for letting agents to belong to a government approved redress scheme, the need for agents to display their fees, redress scheme membership and client money protection status, and the councils’ powers to issue civil penalties of up to £5,000 on agents that do not comply.
“Only by raising standards across the sector can we start to tackle the small minority whose rogue activities tarnish our reputation. This toolkit is designed to be a ‘one stop shop’ for local authorities working with the private rented sector. They are, after all, in the enforcement front line” says Isobel Thomson, chief executive of NALS.