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Did you know that from 1st of October 2014, all letting agents are required to be a member of one of three government-approved letting agency redress schemes. If a letting agent doesn’t resolve your complaint within 8 weeks, it’s likely you’ll be able to complain to one of these schemes.

Before the 1st of October 2014, you could only refer an unresolved dispute to a redress scheme if your letting agent chose to be a member of a professional association and only a few letting agents were members of a professional association.

What is letting agents redress scheme?
Letting agent redress scheme provides a free, independent service for resolving disputes between letting agents and their customers. Landlords and tenants can use the schemes. The decision made by an independent redress scheme is binding on all parties.

Which redress scheme does your letting agent use?
Ask your letting agent which scheme they belong to or check their website. Some letting agents display details on stickers in their windows. 
You can check which scheme your letting agent is registered with using by checking on their website.

The 3 government-approved letting agent redress schemes are?
– Ombudsman Services Property

– The Property Ombudsman (TPO)

– The Property Redress Scheme

If a letting agent isn’t registered with a redress 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. Your local council can investigate and prosecute agencies who have not signed up to a scheme.

What can you complain about to a redress scheme?
The schemes deal with breaches of letting agency codes of conduct and issues including:

– lack of transparency about fees for tenants

– inaccurate property descriptions

– disputes about refunds of holding deposits taken to reserve a property

– inaccurate accounting and not passing your rent on to your landlord

– slow or poor service

The schemes won’t cover complaints about the amount of fees charged or their reasonableness, tenancy deposits or issues which are the landlord’s responsibility.

How to make a complaint to a redress scheme?
Your first step is always to make a complaint direct to your letting agent. Follow your letting agent’s complaints procedure. Get details of this from your letting agent’s website or ask the agent’s office.

The letting agent should resolve your dispute within 8 weeks. If it does not, you can complain to your letting agent’s redress scheme.

You can complain to your letting agent’s redress scheme after you receive the final letter from the letting agency about the dispute. You must complain within the time limit set by the scheme.

After the redress scheme makes a decision?
The decision made by a letting agency redress scheme is binding on all parties. The letting agency has to comply with any orders to pay you compensation, to pay a fine or to put something right.

Other ways to resolve a dispute with a letting agent?
Letting agent redress schemes are not the only way to resolve disputes with letting agencies. Other actions you can take include: (1) 
complaining to your local council (2) complaining to a letting agent’s professional association, if it is a member (3) taking the letting agent to court to claim compensation

Please note that Letting agent redress schemes can’t help if you have already started court action about a dispute.