The jury appears to be out on whether the new enforcement body for estate and lettings agents will be resourced sufficiently to do the job.
Officially the new National Trading Standards Estate & Letting Agency Team - NTSELAT - will act as the lead enforcement authority for the purposes of the Estate Agents Act 1979 and the Tenant Fees Act 2019.
The estate agency side will continue to be policed by Trading Standards officers based at Powys county council, while the lettings agents’ ban and deposit cap - coming into force on June 1 - will be policed by TS officers from Bristol city council.
However, some agents have queried whether there will be sufficient resources to do the job properly - and there was no reference in the NTSELAT’s launch statement as to how many staff would be in post to conduct the policing.
“I don’t mean to be picky … but I can’t read anywhere how many are on the team … To be serious it needs to be a dozen or so” says Ed Mead, co-founder of Viewber and a board member of The Property Ombudsman and Agents Mutual.
Kristen Byfield of Base, a respected London estate and lettings agency, says: “Surely to be effective they need a team of 30-plus on-the-ground enforcers.”
There is no official word yet on resources from the new body, which in its first statement yesterday afternoon said it would be primarily responsible for the regulation of estate agency work in the UK and letting agency work in England, specifically:
- overseeing the operation of relevant estate and letting agency legislation;
- issuing prohibition and formal warning orders to those found unfit to engage in estate agency work in the UK;
- approving & overseeing the UK’s consumer redress schemes, Ombudsmen, and Alternative Dispute Resolution entities in the estate agency sector; and
- issuing guidance and advice for the public, businesses and enforcement authorities on estate agency work in the UK and relevant letting agency work in England.
Those who missed yesterday’s announcement - covered exclusively on Estate Agent Today - can read it here.
“Bringing the two functions - lead enforcement authority for estate agency work and lead enforcement authority for lettings agency work - under one team will mean there is a single point of contact for enforcement work in this area. This single team approach will help us uphold consumers’ rights and enforce the law” explains James Munro, now named as Head of National Trading Standards Estate and Letting Agency Team, expanding his previous role.
And Housing Minister Heather Wheeler MP adds: “We are determined to make the private rented sector a fairer, more accessible market that works for all and I am delighted that local authorities will now be able to access the best advice and information from this new team. There is no place for unfair fees – now, with this new enforcement authority, we will be able to stamp them out.”
Additional information is also available on the team’s new website: www.ntselat.uk.