At the annual Association of Residential Managing Agents’ (ARMA) conference yesterday (18 October 2017), the Communities Secretary, Sajid Javid, announced that the Government is planning new measures to help create a fairer property management system that works for everyone and are considering creating a new independent regulatory body to oversee leasehold and private rented management.
Since 2010, the Government has taken action by making it a requirement for all letting and management agents to belong to a redress scheme, and they have introduced a range of tougher measures to target rogue landlords and agents in the private rented sector.
However, in a study conducted by consumer group Which? shows that unfair practices in the UK are leading to as much as £700 million in unnecessary service charges being paid each year, and other organisations such as the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on leaseholds believe the total could be as much as £1.4 billion.
With over 4.2 million leasehold homes throughout the UK and service charges reaching between £2.5 billion and £3.5 billion a year, Mr Javid has said that the government is determined to fix the problems in the property management industry, drive down costs and protect consumers from the small minority of rogue agents.
In a statement, Mr Javid said: “We are showing our determination to give power back to consumers so they have the service they expect and deserve, as part of my drive to deliver transparency and fairness for the growing number of renters and leaseholders.”
To decide on how they might achieve these goals, the Government is initiating a six-week consultation period in which a study will be carried out regarding:
Whether regulatory overhaul of the sector is needed;
Measures to protect consumers from unfair costs and overpriced service charges;
Ways to place more power in the hands of consumers by giving leaseholders more say over their agent;
Whether a new independent regulatory body is needed – and if separate bodies should be established, for both leasehold and private rented management, and letting agents.
If the proposal for an independent regulatory body goes ahead, all letting and management agents, across both the private rented and leasehold sectors, will have to be qualified and regulated in order to practice.
Along with his proposal for management regulation, Mr Javid also called for an end to the “unjustified use of leasehold in new-build houses” and said that the current system of redress “actively dis-empowers tenants, leaseholders and even some freeholders, stripping them of many rights and making it extremely difficult to enforce those they do have.”
Although, it should be noted that this problem isn't exclusive to leaseholders. For some of the 4.5 million people in the UK rental sector, overcharged costs for repairs and services is often passed down to tenants.
This follows on from the summer 2017, during which the Government launched a consultation setting out radical proposals to cut out unfair abuses of leasehold to deliver a fairer, more transparent system for homebuyers. Plans include banning new build homes being sold as leasehold as well as restricting ground rents to as low as zero.
Finally, earlier this month the Secretary of State also announced measures to help make sure tenants are more secure in their homes; requiring all letting agents to be regulated; and consulting with the judiciary on the case for a new Housing Court – a specialist court with the aim to save time and money resolving housing disputes.
For a safe, regulated property management company, please contact our sister company, Regency Estate Management on 0208 462 6333 or visit their website www.regencyem.co.uk for further information.
Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government & The Rt Hon Sajid Javid MP (2017) 'Crackdown on Unfair Managing Agents', GOV.UK, 18 October [Online]. Available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/crackdown-on-unfair-managing-agents (Accessed: 19 October 2017).