The New Year has brought positive change for the lettings market. With effect from this week, tenants and landlords of properties across the UK will benefit from a new partnership between the OEA (Ombudsman for Estate Agents) and NALS (National Approved Letting Scheme) – allowing them easier access to independent redress in order to settle disputes and seek early resolution to issues.
NALS Press Release – 7 January 2008
The enhanced service for NALS accredited firms follows the appointment of the Ombudsman for Estate Agents, Christopher Hamer, who together with NALS has responded to a growing need within the private rental sector for independent redress. A solution has increasingly been sought that is effective, simple and delivers results but without involving extended and costly procedures to all parties.
Previously, NALS accredited lettings firms* had used arbitration as the final stage in the complaints handling process. The new agreement with the OEA, now gives independent redress for both tenants and landlords at NO cost to either party and provides the lettings sector with a potentially faster, yet professional service, in line with best practice – for a small annual fee. The procedure is based on seeking early agreement by all parties through a more informal decision process. Where this is not possible OEA will carry out a full review of the complaint.
According to NALS Chair, Caroline Pickering, the new alliance is a “win-win” for tenants, landlords and lettings agents:
“It is our on-going aim to raise standards, add value and endorse best practice in the private lettings sector. And, of key importance is to support our accredited firms by securing the utmost credibility for them in their dealings with tenants and landlords. It makes total sense that adjudication should be open to both tenant and landlord in the unfortunate event that an intractable problem arises with a letting agent and here we have a solution that is cost-effective and straightforward for all parties – by recognising that early agreement is beneficial on all sides”.
Christopher Hamer reinforced that the OEA had now been dealing with lettings issues for over 18 months and had gained valuable experience as a result:
“In line with the growth in property rental, it is likely that there will inevitably be an increase in the number of disputes in months to come”, he says. “It’s a natural extension to offer independent redress to NALS accredited agents – and their clients too. People buying and selling properties in the UK have been able to use the services of the OEA for many years and it makes sense for those in the private rental sector to have the same opportunity”.
NALS has over 1,500 member offices and 1,200 accredited firms throughout the UK who recognise the benefit of promoting themselves in their local marketplace as part of an industry wide accreditation scheme.
* RICS firms will continue to use their own arbitration scheme which is recognised by NALS
NALS is backed by the Government and the professional bodies in the lettings sector. NALS offers a reliable benchmark for landlords and tenants to compare the standards of service they receive from residential letting agents. All accredited firms commit to providing clearly defined levels of customer service, have client money protection cover, maintain professional indemnity insurance and operate a customer complaints procedure. For more information visit www.nalscheme.co.uk