ARLA has reacted angrily in response to the latest announcement by housing minister Grant Shapps that he will not seek to regulate the private rental sector.
Graham Jones, MP for Hyndburn who has campaigned in Parliament for greater regulation and higher standards said
"The housing minister is gaining a reputation for not listening. For sitting on his hands. Choosing to follow a right wing ideological line, in the pockets of the laissez faire landlords, rather than deal with the evidence. Those with an interest in housing are beginning to doubt the minsiters abilities to deal with the problems."
Announcing his backing for the voluntary SAFEagent scheme, Shapps said he preferred to work with the industry on initiatives to improve it, rather than tie it up in red tape. He has failed to provide evidence that his anti-regulation stance will have any positive impact.
In a confrontational reply, Ian Potter, operations manager at ARLA, said his organisation was being undermined by Shapps.
He said: “We are disappointed that the housing minister has once again refused to implement any kind of regulation on the private rental sector.
“There is no requirement for lettings agents or landlords themselves to take any kind of professional qualification. This means their professionalism cannot be guaranteed.
“In today’s market, when people are becoming increasingly desperate to find a home, there will be increasing opportunity for unethical operators to take advantage of consumers.
“We have worked hard to introduce a licensing scheme for letting agents to boost consumer protection among our members and we would recommend any consumer uses an ARLA licensed agent. All licensed ARLA members offer consumer redress for service failure and client money protection should the agent default with its clients’ funds.
“However, we have no power to force agents to become licensed and, as long as there is no centrally-led regulation, our work is being undermined.”
Mr Jones added, "The people of Hyndburn are becoming aware that Mr Shapps does no understand the scale of their problems, is out of touch with peope in these areas and his policies are having a damaging effect".