Landlords, letting agents and management companies working with private rented sector properties are required by law to sign up to a government approved scheme to ensure quality in the sector – or face a fine of up to £5,000.
The legislation came in to effect on 1 October 2014 and all letting agents and property managers (subject to certain exclusions) need to sign up to one of three government approved Redress Schemes.
This will make it easier for tenants and landlords to complain about poor service and prevent disputes escalating.
Local authorities will enforce the requirement and will bring about the monetary fine for failing to sign up.
The city council’s executive has approved an amendment to the Corporate Enforcement Policy to allow monetary penalties, which is currently not dealt with through the enforcement policy.
The three government schemes include:
- Ombudsman Services Property
- Property Redress Scheme
Redress schemes require letting agents to:
- Have an in-house complaints procedure
- Cooperate with any investigation and agree to pay compensation promptly if the redress scheme awards it
Proactive checks of mandatory membership will be undertaken as part of licence applications for Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) and the city council will continue to investigate complaints received against unregistered landlords, agents and property managers.
Those found unregistered will be given one opportunity to join within 14 days of being contacted by the council, after which a notice to issue a fine will be issued.
The letting agent or property manager will then have 28 days to make written representations or objections to the authority. The city council can impose further penalties if the party continues to fail to join a scheme.
Cllr Bernard Priest, Deputy Leader of Manchester City Council, said: “Private sector tenants have been woefully under represented when it comes to poor standards in private properties, but we hope the Redress Schemes will allow those residents to take some control back and give a genuine voice for complaints on an independent playing field that will ensure their issue is resolved fairly and properly.