Passed by a narrow margin – 211 votes to 206 – Lords Amendment 40 to the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill will now return to the House of Commons. The reading is scheduled for 16 April.
If Amendment 40 is accepted, then lettings agents will be held to the same regulation as estate agents. And if they don’t receive a good service, tenants will have access to the same redress schemes that home buyers currently do.
There is absolutely no practical reason to deny tenants this basic consumer protection. However, the current government has indicated its opposition to Amendment 40.(1)
Curiously the Housing Minister, Mark Prisk, supported Baroness Hayter the first time she attempted to pass a similar amendment in 2007 (when he was part of the Shadow Government) but now that he is part of the ruling government, Prisk is opposed to Amendment 40 (2). Write to Mark Prisk and ask him why.
Amendment 40 is supported by most property lobbying groups, including Association of Residential Lettings Agents (ARLA). It’s also supported by housing charity Shelter. In February the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) published their report on the lettings market. Amendment 40 has received attention and support from groups which would in most cases not agree with each other.
We would suggest bypassing the email method this time, and sending good old fashioned communication on paper to their offices. That’s one way to indicate that you’re serious about the issue. Also, demand a reply from them. If they continue to oppose Amendment 40, tell them you’d like to know on what grounds.
Remember, you don’t have to be a tenant or a landlord to agree that everyone has the right to the same basic consumer protections, whether that person is renting or buying a property.