If a letting agent doesn't resolve a complaint, private renters can complain to an independent letting agent redress scheme.
What are letting agents redress schemes?
Letting agent redress schemes provide a free, independent service for resolving disputes between letting agents and their customers.
Letting agents have to be a member of one of three letting agent redress schemes.
Landlords and tenants can use the schemes. The decision made by a redress scheme is binding on all parties.
How to complain to a letting agent redress scheme
Use Shelter's Letting agent dispute tool to make your complaint.
Check which scheme a letting agent belongs to
Ask your letting agent which scheme they belong to or check their website. Some letting agents display details on stickers in their windows.
There are three government-approved letting agent redress schemes:
To find out if a letting agent is a member of their scheme, you can search the redress scheme's membership list. You may have to search all three.
Click the scheme logos to search:
What you can complain about
You can complain to a letting agent redress scheme about:
- lack of transparency about fees for tenants
- inaccurate property descriptions
- disputes about holding deposits taken to reserve a property
- inaccurate charging
- not passing rent onto the landlord
- slow or poor service
You can also complain if a letting agent breaches the redress scheme's code of conduct or doesn't have an in-house complaints procedure.
The schemes won't cover complaints about the amount of fees charged or if they are reasonable, tenancy deposits or issues which are the landlord's responsibility.
When to complain
If a letting agent doesn't resolve your complaint within 8 weeks, you'll be able to complain to their redress scheme.
If your letting agent gives a final response to the dispute within 8 weeks, you can complain to their redress scheme after you receive their decision.
You may prefer to complain after you have left.
You must complain within the time limit set by the redress scheme. Letting agents must cooperate with any investigation and agree to pay compensation promptly if the redress scheme awards it.
The letting agency has to comply with any orders to pay you compensation, to pay a fine or to put something right. Tell the scheme if the letting agent doesn't comply.
If a letting agent isn't registered with a scheme
It's a criminal offence for a letting agent not to be a member of a redress scheme.
A local council can issue a fixed penalty fine of up to £5000 to a letting agency branch that is not a member of a scheme. Letting agents with multiple branches could face multiple fines.
Contact your local council if an agent isn't registered with a scheme. It can investigate and prosecute agencies who haven't signed up to a scheme.
Other ways to resolve a dispute with a letting agent
Letting agent redress schemes aren't the only way to resolve disputes with letting agencies.
Other action you can take includes:
- complaining to your local council
- complaining to a letting agent's professional association, if it is a member
- taking the letting agent to court to claim compensation
Letting agent redress schemes can't help if you have already started court action about a dispute.
Find out more about making a complaint about a letting agent.
If you are worried about the risk of eviction
Get advice if you are worried that you may be evicted if you complain.
Use Shelter's directory to find a housing adviser
Last updated 12 Sep 2015 | © Shelter