Is there a Code of Conduct for the private rented sector?
To paraphrase Kenneth Wolstenholme, there is now! In fact, a new code was published just recently. Endorsed and commissioned by the government, it was put together by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors along with a number of other bodies, including the Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA), the various deposit protection schemes, and the ombudsmen services.
Although most of the code, which applies to both landlords and agents, remains voluntary, it has still been welcomed by industry bodies as a step in the right direction.
Some key points of the code are as follows:
Landlords should choose agents who are members of an accredited body; belong to an independent redress scheme; have client money protection; and have insurances such as professional indemnity.
Fees must be published on agents’ websites and ‘displayed prominently in all offices where customers enter.’ All fees should be stated inclusive of VAT.
Agents who are in the process of agreeing a letting should provide the tenant with a copy of an information document produced by the government earlier this year, on How to Rent. (You can actually access this yourself online at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/how-to-rent).
Agents should keep all landlord or tenant monies separately, in a dedicated client account which should be in credit at all times and held in a recognised bank or building society. Any interest earned on client money should be credited to the landlord or tenant.
On repairs and maintenance, agents should declare any commission they might receive from a contractor at the time that estimates for the work are provided to the landlord. Carbon monoxide detectors should be provided in all properties with a gas or solid fuel appliance.
Electrical certificates should be provided to the tenant. Full wiring tests should be carried out every 10 years – or five years in the case of houses of multiple occupancy.
There should also be regular portable appliance tests (PATs).
If the tenant refuses to grant access to a property, neither landlord nor agent can enter without a court order.
Those are just some of the highlights.
Meanwhile, if you’re in the mood for a little light bedtime reading, you can find the full 32-page code online at http://www.rics.org/uk/knowledge/news-insight/comment/promoting-good-practise-in-the-private-rented-sector/
And yes, ‘practice’ is indeed spelled incorrectly in that address. But it works!