Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Labour's housing policy fail (3)...

Let's try to interpret some more of Labour's newspeak into English shall we?  Page 10 details the following proposal:

We intend to work in partnership with the sector to develop solutions, and will look at potential measures including a code of code of conduct with entry requirements for letting agents and compulsory business and consumer protection measures. We will consider how compliance could be monitored, for example by a regulatory body with enforcement powers.

... a code of code of conduct ...

This is a set of rules, established by a trade association or similar entity.  For example there is the Association of Residential Lettings Agents (ARLA) Code of Practice, or The Property Ombudsman (TPO) Code of Practice.  Businesses choose whether or not to pay for membership of a trade association, and by joining agree to follow the code of conduct.

... entry requirements for letting agents ...

This means qualifications, such as those awarded by the National Federation of Property Professionals.  Their quaifications "are developed in consultation with ARLA and therefore meet the qualification requirements necessary for ARLA membership."  (Their words, not mine)

... compulsory business and consumer protection measures ...

The big question here is what they mean by 'compulsory'.  The two codes of conduct above are compulsory should a lettings agent choose to join the relevant trade association / scheme.  Are labour planning to make membership compulsory for lettings agents? 

... for example by a regulatory body with enforcement powers ...

In other words a quango.  What labour are clearly proposing is to create a statutory ARLA or TPO.  Let's go back to the first line of that statement:

 "We intend to work in partnership with the sector to develop solutions ..." 

What Labour mean is that they intend to put ARLA or the TPO, or more likely an amalgamation of the two, on a statutory footing and compel lettings agents to join.  In other words, legislate to turn them into a quango.  After all, this is the only 'solution' that 'the sector' (i.e. trade associations, landlord industry representatives and big estate agents) will agree to.

YPP councils will not by pander to landlords, estate agents and their representatives, but help tenants by approving planning applications and building more social housing.

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