1.2 How to use this Code
Terms shown in italics are defined in a glossary at the end of the Code.
Landlords are responsible for ensuring that they comply with the law when letting and managing residential property. When a landlord engages an agent, the tasks and responsibilities of letting and managing property will be allocated between them. It is for the landlord and the agent to decide and to understand who is responsible for which tasks and responsibilities.
This Code uses the words ‘you’ and ‘responsible person’ to refer to whoever is responsible for a particular task or responsibility. Where items in the Code are aimed only at agents or landlords, this is indicated where required.
In the Code:
• The word ‘must’ indicates a legal requirement.
• The word ‘should’ indicates best practice. Where you should do something and have not, you ought to be able to justify reasons for not doing it.
Where procedures are recommended for specific tasks, these are intended to represent ‘best practice’; that is, procedures that, in the opinion of the property management industry, meet a high standard of competence.
When an allegation of professional negligence or a breach of obligation is made against a responsible person, a court or tribunal is likely to take account of the contents of the Code in deciding whether or not you have acted with reasonable competence.
The principles on which this Code is based are:
1 To comply with all laws relating to the letting and management of residential private rented sector property.
2 To meet all other legal requirements and relevant codes of practice.
3 To let and manage properties in an honest, fair, transparent and professional manner.
4 To manage properties with due skill, care and diligence, and ensure that, where staff are employed, they have the skills and training needed to carry out their tasks.
5 To do their best to avoid conflicts of interest and, where they do arise, to deal with them openly, fairly and promptly.
6 You must not discriminate on the basis of age, gender, race, language, sexuality or any other factor that might place an individual at a disadvantage.
7 To ensure that all communications and dealings with clients and tenants are fair, clear, timely and transparent.
8 To ensure that all relevant information is provided to clients and tenants, including publicising fees, prior to them committing to a transactional decision.
9 To ensure that all advertising and marketing material is accurate and not misleading.
10 To take steps to look after client money and to hold this separately from other funds.
11 To behave ethically and responsibly at all times.
The Code contains some principles aimed specifically at letting and management agents, as follows:
• To ensure that landlords and tenants are given details of complaints-handling procedures and the redress scheme to which the agent belongs.
• To ensure client money is covered by client money protection.
You will find the Glossary here. I will try to link to it where possible.
First – landlords using letting agents, need to sort out with their agent who will be responsible for what. Ideally this will be set out in some sort of written document such as an agency agreement.
Some parts of the code just refer to agents, but when this is the case, the code will say so.
There is a big difference between when the code says you MUST do something or when you SHOULD do something.
- MUST – means it is a legal obligation. So you will be breaching the law if you don’t do it.
- SHOULD – means that it is best practice but you won’t necessarily be breaking the law if you don’t do whatever-it-is.
However if you are taken to court for some issue such as professional negligence or breach of your landlords obligations – then the court will very likely refer to the Code and take account of what it says when deciding your case.
So it is important that you comply with it as much as possible.
The Code then goes on to set out its main principles. These matters are all dealt wtih in more detail later in the code.