Question answered by Angie Richards, Lettings Manager at Woods in Newton Abbot.
- Is there a Code of Conduct for the private rented sector?
- Yes, there is. Compiled by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) along with a number of other bodies, including the Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA), the ombudsmen services and the various deposit protection schemes, the Private Rented Sector Code of Practice was endorsed and commissioned by the Government and published in September 2014.
Even though most of the code, which applies to both landlords and agents, remains voluntary, it has 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. This can also be accessed 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 with a recognised bank or building society. Any interest earned on client money should be credited to the landlord or tenant.
- Carbon monoxide detectors should be provided in all properties with a gas or solid fuel appliance.
- Full wiring tests should be carried out every 10 years – or five years in the case of HMO’s (Houses of Multiple Occupancy). There should also be regular portable appliance tests (PAT’s), and electrical certificates should be provided to the tenant.
- Agents should declare any commission they might receive from a contractor carrying out repairs or maintenance at the time that estimates for the work are provided to the landlord.
- If the tenant refuses to grant access to a property, neither the landlord nor the agent can enter without a court order.
Those are just some of the highlights. All 32 pages of the code can be viewed online at http://www.rics.org/Global/Private_Rented_Sector_code_1st_edition_PGguidance_2014.pdf
Woods & Woods Bryce Baker are ARLA member firms, members of The Property Ombudsman – Lettings and lodge tenants deposits with the DPS (Deposit Protection Scheme).