Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Letting agents to publicise fees charged to landlords and tenants

As from today (27th May 2015), it is a statutory duty for letting agents to fully publicise the fees they charge to both landlords and tenants. Under the Consumer Rights Act 2015, letting agents must visibly display a list of their fees at each of their offices, including their website.

These new requirements have been issued by the Department for Communities and Local Government with some input from the Advertising Standards Authority. The new guidelines state that, "all fees, charges or penalties (however expressed) which are payable to the agent by a landlord or tenant in respect of letting agency work and property management work carried out by the agent in connection with an assured tenancy. This includes fees, charges or penalties in connection with an assured tenancy of a property or a property that is, has been or is proposed to be let under an assured tenancy.”

All fees must also be inclusive of VAT. Letting agents however, do not need to publicise the rent which is payable to a landlord or the tenancy deposit which is taken as security against any damage or violation of the tenancy agreement.

These guidelines are enforced by Trading Standards. Non-compliance will result in a fine of up to £5,000. Lower fines will only be applicable to those in extenuating circumstances. Common excuses including, ‘I did not know about the law’ or ‘I did not know what to do,’ are no longer acceptable.

This change now means that a breakdown in costs are required. All fees should be clear without surcharges or hidden costs. Fees for things like 'administration fees' will no longer be acceptable, with all charges being displayed inclusive of tax.

In addition to these changes, letting agents must also display which redress scheme they have joined. There are three redress schemes and they include:

- The Property Ombudsman

- The Property Redress Scheme or Ombudsman Services

- Client Money Protection (CMP)

But what do you think? Start your own discussion in the LawStore Social Landlord and Tenant forum.

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