The Alternative Dispute Resolution for Consumer Disputes (Competent Authorities and Information) Regulations 2015 are partly in force now and the remainder which imposes obligations on all landlords and letting agents takes effect on 9 July 2015.

The regulations require information to be provided by a ‘trader’ to a ‘consumer’ about alternative dispute resolution (ADR) entities in certain circumstances.

Parts 1 to 3 of the regulations provide definitions and provisions relating to the setting up of a list which will detail information about approved ADR entities.

For the purpose of the regulations, ‘trader’ means:

a person acting for purposes relating to that person’s trade, business, craft or profession, whether acting personally or through another person acting in the trader’s name or on the trader’s behalf.

And ‘consumer’ means:

an individual acting for purposes which are wholly or mainly outside that individual’s trade, business, craft or profession

It is therefore clear the regulations apply within a landlord / agent and tenant relationship.

 

Supply of information

Regulation 19 which makes up part 4 is the main regulation for our purposes and from 9 July 2015, it will be a requirement for all landlords and letting agents to provide certain information regarding approved ADR entities under a couple circumstances.

Obliged to use ADR under enactment or trade association

Where a landlord or agent is obliged to use alternative dispute resolution services provided by an ADR entity under an enactment or the rules of a trade association to which the trader belongs, the landlord or agent must provide the name and website address of the ADR entity –

  • on the landlord or agents website, if they have a website and,
  • in the general terms and conditions of sales or service contracts between the trader and a consumer.

It is important to note that you must be obliged under some enactment or trade body that you are a member of for this to apply. This will not apply to deposit protection schemes because although they all offer ADR, there is no obligation to use it (the information is covered by the prescribed information in any event).

You should therefore check with any trade bodies you are a member of to see if there is any obligation to use a specific ADR entity.

If there is, the name and website address of the ADR entity must be put in any tenancy agreement between you and the tenant. Further, the name and website address must be put on your website (if you have a website). For letting agents this requirement would also extend to terms of business between them and their landlord clients.

Although alternative dispute resolution is advised on occasion, neither the Guild nor our accreditation scheme (PRS Accreditation Schemeobliges it’s members to use any specific ADR entity.

Internal complaint handling exhausted

The situation that will affect most landlords and agents is where a landlord / agent has exhausted its internal complaint handling procedure when considering a complaint from a tenant relating to a tenancy agreement. In this case, the landlord / letting agent must inform the tenant, on a durable medium

  • that the landlord / agent cannot settle the complaint with the tenant; and
  • the name and website address of an ADR entity which would be competent to deal with the complaint, should the tenant wish to use alternative dispute resolution; and
  • whether the landlord / agent is obliged, or prepared, to submit to an alternative dispute resolution procedure operated by that ADR entity.

At the time of writing, the list of ADR entities which must be made available by the Secretary of State is not yet available that we can find. It is likely the list will be available on or around 9 July and we will update this post when we become aware.

The information detailed above is to be provided on a durable medium which means-

  • paper or email, or
  • any other medium that—
    • allows information to be addressed personally to the recipient,
    • enables the recipient to store the information in a way accessible for future reference for a period that is long enough for the purposes of the information, and
    • allows the unchanged reproduction of the information stored;

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