Lettings agents in the UK are set to be regulated for the first time under new proposals that will see more stringent measures brought in in order to ensure that landlord insurance customers and tenants alike are given all of the protection they need.

This is a measure that has been called for a number of times in recent months from a range of sources, with the likes of the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (Rics) stating that there are a majority of people in the private rented sector who do not trust their lettings agent to do right by them.

The government has announced that an amendment will be made to its Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill, a move that will see agents facing regulation and a new ombudsman put in place to ensure that all measures are carried out and followed by professionals who are working in the industry.

Until now, it has been the case that agents have been able to operate without any restrictions, meaning that tenants and landlords have been at risk of unscrupulous behaviour that potentially left them out of pocket, giving scope for nasty extra charges and the failure to return a full security deposit, for example.

In the new rules, it would become the case that the ombudsman would have the ability to return any rogue payments to those who were found to have been left out of pocket by malpractice and unethical behaviours in the sector.

Rics global residential director Peter Bolton King said: "This is a step in the right direction, however there is still more to be done to raise standards in the market and protecting the consumer throughout the transaction. The lettings market has for far too long been in danger of becoming the Wild West of the property industry. While clearly there are good agents out there, the market has been dogged by poor practice and a lack of consumer protection."