Housing Minister Heather Wheeler has confirmed landlords and tenants will have stronger protection against the worst excesses of bad letting and managing agents.
She has set out three main protections for hundreds of thousands of renters and leasehold property owners who face paying unexpected costs, deliberately vague bills or suffering poor quality repairs from agents exploiting the market.
To stop bad agents from breaking the law, a new mandatory code of practice will be introduced.
And to lock out the rogues, every letting business will have at least one person with a nationally recognised qualification.
A new independent regulator will enforce the code with powers to ban or prosecute letting and managing agents breaking the rules.
Wheeler also wants to help leaseholders challenge unfair ground rents, service charges and repair costs.
“Most property agents take a thorough and professional approach when carrying out their business, but sadly some do not,” she said.
“By introducing new standards for the sector, we will clamp down on the small minority of agents who abuse the system, so we can better protect tenants and leaseholders who find themselves at the end of a raw deal.”
The minister will set up an industry working group to draft the code by early 2019.
“The group will also look in greater depth at unfair additional charges for freehold and leaseholders and whether they should be capped or banned. This includes the use of restrictive covenants, leasehold restrictions and administration charges,” said the minister.
She is also giving the green light to compulsory client money protection for letting agents to stop businesses closing leaving landlords and tenants out of pocket.
Letting agents hold an estimated £2.7 billion in deposits and other funds at any one time, says the minister, and compulsory protection means landlords can be reimbursed if a letting agent is fraudulent or enters bankruptcy.