Information for Tenants on Rights of Redress against Agents and Property Managers

Briefing for Tenants on Rights of Redress against Agents and Property Managers

If you are a tenant in the private rented sector and you are unhappy with the way you have been treated by a lettings agent or property manager, you can make a complaint to a redress scheme. If you plan to do this, always complain directly to the agent first because the redress scheme will not examine complaints as a line of first resort.

The law says that most private sector lettings agents and managing agents must belong to a redress scheme.


Q: What is a Redress Scheme?

A: A redress scheme can investigate complaints about your agent and come to an independent decision.  If your complaint is upheld, the redress scheme can impose fines and order the agent to pay you up to £25,000 compensation. 

You can’t use a scheme to complain about businesses if all they do is advertise properties or provide information.  But if they are arranging your tenancy, or arranging repairs, maintenance, insurance or other services during your tenancy, the redress scheme may be able to help you.

You can’t use a redress scheme if your landlord is a local authority, a University, a charity providing student housing (such as Unipol) or social housing provider.


Q: How Do I make a Complaint?

A: You should raise the complaint with the agent or manager in the first instance.  If your complaint is not resolved, ask them which redress scheme they belong to.  It will be one of the following:

Each scheme has information on its website about how to lodge a complaint.


Q: What if the Agent/Manager Will Not Co-operate?

A: Your agent or manager may not need to belong to a scheme.  A reputable agent or manager which is exempt from belonging to a scheme will be able to explain clearly to you why they are exempt. You may have to take an exempt agent or manager to court if you want to get your complaint resolved.

If your agent or manager will not co-operate, you will need to find out if your lettings agent or property manager is exempt or if it has a duty to belong to a redress scheme.  Ask for help from a housing advisor if you are not sure about this.

If there is a duty to belong to a scheme, you can check with the individual schemes whether the agent or manager is a member. If they are a member, you can then lodge your complaint with the relevant scheme. 

If the agent or manager should belong to a scheme, but does not, report them to the local authority (details of how to do this will appear here soon). The Local Authority (your City Council) could fine them up to £5,000 for failure to belong to a scheme. The Local Authority impose and collect these penalties, and in Leeds 183 investigations have taken place and £47,500 of invoices have been issued, as of January 2016. 


Q: What Can the Redress Scheme Do for Me?

A: The redress scheme will make an independent investigation of your complaint.  There is no charge for lodging a complaint. 

If the redress scheme resolves the complaint in your favour, it can direct the agent to give you an apology, it can impose a fine and it can order the agent to pay you compensation of up to £25,000.

In serious cases, the agent could be fined, or expelled from the scheme.  That in turn may drive them out of business.  That’s not just good for you, it’s good for all tenants.

Note

The applicable legislation can be found:

The Enterprise and Regulations Reform Act 2013 sections 83 to 88 http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2013/24/part/6/crossheading/redress-schemes-lettings-and-property-management-agents/enacted

and

The Redress Schemes for Lettings Agency Work and Property Management Work (Requirement to Belong to a Scheme etc) (England) Order 2014

Further information for Leeds landlords can be found at:

 

http://www.leeds.gov.uk/Business/Pages/lettings-and-property-redress-scheme.aspx