Automated rental payment provider PayProp has claimed that the first steps towards modernizing, legitimizing, and professionalizing the lettings sector are setting up a standardized code of practice. PayProp also hopes letting agents will go through a process to be nationally qualified, so there is more standardization.
PayProp plans to get these actions in motion soon, following them up with personal training to help ease agents into the program. Those that are entered into this sector will be regulated by an independent regulator, and if agents don't comply with these regulations, they can be cast out from the industry, or worse, charged with prosecution.
PayProp is working directly with the government to process these regulations, hoping that with them in place, the lettings sector will see improvement in reliability and customers will be happier in the long run.
Other things the regulations will potentially impose are a ban on tenant fees, a cap on holding and security deposits, compulsory membership of a Client Money Protection (CMP) scheme, a blacklist of criminal agents and landlords and banning orders for offenders.
Things will be difficult for government officials to implement these regulations, however.
"We welcome these proposals. Lettings will always be a customer service industry and professional standards should be at the heart of everything agents do," says Neil Cobbold, Chief Operating Officer of PayProp in the UK. However, with so many new measures being introduced over a short period of time, it's crucial that the government takes a holistic and considered approach to ensure maximum effectiveness For example, the deposit cap and fees ban, compulsory CMP membership and these new proposals should be introduced as part of a coherent and logical step-by-step process under the banner of professional standards. A piecemeal or scattergun approach could be counterproductive, leaving agents and consumers in the dark."
There are still questions that must be answered before things can proceed. Cobbold continues: "From announcement to introduction, it will have taken well over two years for the ban on fees to be implemented which may lead the industry to believe a similar timescale may be expected for these new measures. What's more, it's unclear at this stage whether the new independent regulator will work alongside or independently of the existing redress schemes and how much the maximum fines for the worst offenders will be."
"Minimum standards will help to rid the sector of rogue agents and effective adoption of technology can facilitate improved levels of professionalism across the industry. Automated PropTech solutions like PayProp can provide agents with the platform to provide a transparent, efficient and streamlined lettings service to their landlords."
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