August 8, 2020

Mark Prisk’s department sabotages attempt to license leasehold managing agents

trixieA clever Lords amendment by Baroness Gardner that would see leasehold managing agents required to have a licence will be sabotaged in the Commons tomorrow.

Instead, the Department of Communities and Local Government wants to insist managing agents belong to an ombudsman scheme.

Ombudsmen are widely popular among the vested interests in the status quo of leasehold – such as Peverel, which claims – wrongly – that they are part of their complaints procedure. They give all the appearance of redress without any of the discomforts.

The reason is that ombudsman rulings are confidential.

Baroness Gardner helpfully introduced a clause into the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill, which was intended solely for letting agents.

It is to be debated in the Commons tomorrow (April 16) with the following:

“33. Lords Amendment 40 would extend the definition of “estate agency work” in the Estate Agents Act 1979 which would mean that the provisions of that Act would apply to persons carrying out the activities described in the revised definition, as well as to the services that estate agents provide in relation to the disposal or acquisition of land. Those activities described in the amendment are: acting on clients’ instructions in relation to the letting of an interest in land, managing lettings and block management arrangements (such as in the residential leasehold sector) and any management activities undertaken by any person in the course of a business in connection with land or interests in land.”

 http://services.parliament.uk/bills/2012-13/enterpriseandregulatoryreform/documents.html

Mandatory ombudsman schemes are no substitute for a licensing system – where repeat offenders risk having their licence withdrawn.

There will be no improvement to the protection of leaseholder funds under this scheme, which remain very weakly protected.

Mark Prisk was fully aware that the whole sector supported licensing and that both Association of Residential Letting Agents and the British Property Federation have already criticised the new proposals, which have been produced without consultation.

Sir Peter Bottomley has written to Housing Minister Mark Prisk and Chief Whip Sir George Young:

“Could I, could we, please be advised urgently whether the department and government expect to accept this Lords amendment or whether there will wrongly be an attempt to exclude managing agents?

“Managing agents who act properly have nothing to fear and nothing to lose. Leaseholders will go on suffering otherwise.”

Bottomley is echoing calls for Prisk to back the amendment from Which?; The Association of Residential Letting Agents; The Property Ombudsman; RICS; Shelter; and the Residential Landlords Association.

All are calling for “greater consumer protection “in the  letting and managing agent markets” through a “simpler more joined up regulatory approach  than that provided by the myriad of local accreditation schemes”.

Shelterletter

Comments

  1. Very disappointed that Mr Mark Prisk has done this knowing leaseholders are in a dire position– he has proved to be just as unhelpful as Mr Grant Shapp’s.