Last Updated: 09 April 2018
Created: 09 April 2018
In Swindon there are a significant number of privately rented and leasehold homes, making up the estimated 8.9 million nationally.
The size of this sector has enabled the growth of a multi-billion pound property agent market, the majority of which are good, professional job creators.
However a lack of minimum standards in the industry has allowed a minority of unscrupulous agents to proliferate. Whilst many agents sign up to standards of practice through membership of a professional body, others do not. This is not fair on reputable agents and it isn’t fair on the people living in these homes.
Along with other MPs, I have campaigned for a mandatory Code of Practice to cover letting and management agents in order to protect renters, leaseholders and freeholders.
All too often, I have heard various examples which prove that this move is absolutely essential.
With our changes, every letting and management agent will be required to have a nationally recognised qualification to practice and will have to undertake continuing professional development.
If they fail to do so, then there will be a legal framework with hefty fines with enforcement from Trading Standards.
We will also empower leaseholders to switch managing agents where they perform poorly or break the terms of their contract. At the moment the only protection residents have is the option to ‘Right to Manage’, where the leaseholders vote to dismiss their management company, normally due to poor service or unreasonable (increasing) fees.
Having organised many public meetings on this, to provide advice and share best practice, it has become very clear that the whole process can be extremely complex, time-consuming and costly.
It is further complicated because only the property owner can vote to allow this to happen, and often the properties are rental and the tenants simply don’t know who the actual owner is.
With not all properties then able to vote they are then unable to pass the voting threshold to dismiss the unscrupulous managing agent, who remain able to keep hiking fees.
Therefore, I absolutely support this move to make the process much easier and simpler, something I know that local residents would benefit from.
Finally on new house builds, as featured in the Swindon Advertiser the quality is all too often poor, which is unacceptable, especially when people have paid so much money.
We therefore also want to bring in much higher standards for house builders. Currently, the NHBC warranties end up getting sent back to the developers. This means that if you buy a new build house and there is a default, it is up to the house developer to decide whether they agree it’s a default and if they will fix it or not.
Instead, we want to create an independent body to overlook this process and make the decision on what action should be taken.
This is only fair and I hope that by making the developers accountable to an independent body, this will drive up the standards of new build homes.