A regulatory body could be set up to protect leaseholders as part of an effort to tackle abuse in the property market, the government has revealed. 

The Department for Communities and Local Government is currently mulling over responses to its consultation on unfair abuses in the leasehold market, which conveyancing solicitors have long urged the government to tackle. Today it issued a call for evidence on regulating letting and managing agents.

The consultation paper highlights three ways that regulation could work. Letting and managing agents could be required to become members of a relevant professional body, operating under a code of conduct. The professional body could be overseen by a regulatory body, established or approved by the government.

Another option is to establish or approve a new regulatory body, which agents must sign up to. Being a member of a professional body would be optional but lower entry fees could apply to agents who are members of an existing body.

However, the department asks if a separate regulatory body should be created to cover leasehold issues.

Seeking views on enforcing a new regulatory approach, the paper highlights sanctions for non-compliance in Scotland, where failure to register on a forthcoming mandatory public register of letting agents will be a criminal offence subject to a maximum £50,000 fine or six months in prison.

Communities secretary Sajid Javid said today's consultation is 'part of my drive to deliver transparency and fairness for the growing number of renters and leaseholders. Our proposed changes to regulate the industry will give landlords, renters and leaseholders the confidence they need to know that their agents must comply with the rules'.

The consultation closes on 29 November. Detailed proposals will be published next year.