FAIR FEES FORUM – REGULATION INTEREST GROUP
- A meeting of members of the Fair Fees Forum with an interest in regulation in the PRS was held on Wednesday 14 June 2017
- Attendees at the Interest Group included; Chestertons, Countrywide, Hamptons, Spicerhaart, Winkworth, Connells Group, National Approved Letting Scheme, Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, Residential Landlords Association, London Property Licensing, The Property Ombudsman, Ombudsman Services: Property, Property Redress Scheme, myDeposits, Deposit Protection Scheme, Tenancy Deposit Scheme.
- The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) and Greater London Authority were at the Forum in listening mode.
- The Group discussed its purpose for meeting, namely the unanimous request that came from the last Fair Fees Forum (FFF) in April, which called for increased regulation in the lettings industry, and how the FFF might go about making this happen.
- The Group collectively reviewed and discussed a paper prepared on regulation for the industry. The paper was designed to encourage discussion and covered the need for regulation and described some possible regulatory tools and structures. Among the additional points made:
- There were strong calls for a more consistent approach to licensing by Local Authorities to remove the current post code lottery for tenants, landlords and agents
- The Group agreed that those rogues who cause detriment to the consumer were a small minority, but their activities tarnished the entire industry and there must be more focus on how to bring them into the fold – or permanently exclude them – to create a better experience of the private rented sector for the consumer.
- Information on best practice examples of regulatory frameworks from other industries and overseas, including the USA and Australia would be helpful.
- The need for accreditation of referencing companies was agreed and a more standard approach to inventories could be explored, but concerns were raised over how this might be paid for following the fee ban.
- The group agreed that while regulation and creation of industry codes was crucial, there was a more immediate need to communicate more on best practice and standards with landlords and tenants; the focus must above all be on the consumer and creating a consumer code and generally improving consumer education.
- In considering how the Forum might influence government on the issue of regulation of the PRS, the group reviewed a paper looking at how independent research might be commissioned to assist with this task. It was agreed that it would be helpful to explore different options for undertaking such research. This would be an agenda item for the next full Forum meeting.
- The Group discussed work on regulation also taking place at The Lettings Industry Council, and looked forward to seeing their paper to see how the work of the groups might come together.
- The Group welcomed the appointment of Alok Sharma MP as the new Housing and Planning Minister.
- The group agreed to write to the new Minister regarding regulation, and suggest the creation of a standing working group to DCLG.
- There will be a meeting of the wider Fair Fees Forum, in July.
About the Fair Fees Forum
NALS originally created the Fair Fees Forum to bring industry, trading standards and consumer groups together to discuss the creation of a fair fees charter for the private rented sector, and look at alternatives to an outright ban.
The Communiqué reflects the views and comments of members of the Forum or interest subgroups.