Rogue letting agents are to be regulated under new legal protections provided by a compulsory regulator announced by MPs yesterday, reports The London Evening Standard.
The Government has announced that all letting agents will be forced by law to join a new government-approved ombudsman.
The new law is designed to protect thousands of people who let their properties each year.
The move to provide legal protection to the public has come after several reports of rogue letting agents ripping off customers with hidden fees and withheld deposits.
The ombudsman will provide a complaints procedure that members should follow and will offer a mechanism for resolving disputes that cannot be settled between the agent and their customer.
Housing Minister Mark Prisk said the move to legislate was partially driven by an Evening Standard campaign to expose rogue agents. The recent boom in letting property in London has fuelled an increase in new agencies with poor reputations.
Under the current law, however, such agencies are not required to be a member of any legal redress organisation, unlike estate agents who are regulated by The Property Ombudsman.
The new law to regulate letting agents is expected to be in place by the end of 2013 and is being welcomed by most reputable letting agents.
"The Government's amendment to the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill would mark a positive move for the private rented sector and in particular, for consumers, who only stand to benefit from a formal system of redress," said Ian Potter of the Association of Residential Letting Agents.
Rip-off letting agents face ban under new law (The Evening Standard)