Bradford Council housing chiefs take part in investigation after report in consumer magazine calls for greater protection for rental sector tenants

Housing chiefs in Bradford have revealed they are compiling a response to a Government inquiry into letting agents after a consumer magazine called for rental sector tenants to be given greater legal protection.

Councillor Val Slater, Bradford Council’s executive member for housing, said the authority was responding to an inquiry by the Community and Local Government Committee, looking into standards in the private rented sector.

Coun Slater said while the district had no “major problems” with letting agents, she understood the importance of protecting the rights of tenants.

She said: “As far as Bradford is concerned, we don’t have a particular or major problem with letting agents.

“We have had some anecdotes about agents who have imposed fees for renewing your tenancy, and you’re not supposed to do that, but it’s only anecdotal and nothing has been proven.

“We work with landlords and tenants to develop a shared vision and action plan to deliver high quality private rented sector housing for the district.”

Consumer magazine Which? has called for rental sector tenants to be given greater legal protection, which would see rogue lettings agents put out of business in the worst cases.

Which? said lettings agents should be governed by the same laws as estate agents and the Office of Fair Trading should have the power to ban lettings agents who break the rules.

According to a survey conducted by the magazine, more than three quarters of tenants in Yorkshire search for a property, not the agent, yet letting agents are ranked second from the bottom in its comparison of markets and one in five tenants said they were dissatisfied with their agent.

The magazine found only a quarter of Yorkshire tenants said agents provided information about fees before they asked and 44 per cent thought upfront fees were unfair. Meanwhile, their research revealed tenants and landlords were not conducting checks on letting agents.

A total of 67 per cent of tenants surveyed in Yorkshire said hey did not know whether their agent was a member of a professional body.

Nationally, the magazine said it had seen evidence of some lettings agents using “aggressive sales tactics”.

Coun Slater said: “As far as we can see we don’t have a particular problem in Bradford, but obviously tenants need protection and just because we haven’t got a problem in Bradford that doesn’t mean we don’t want to protect people elsewhere.”

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