Anna Bibby, 15 May 2019
With the tenant fee ban coming into effect in less than three weeks, landlords are being urged to do their research and prepare for when the ban comes into force on the 1st June.
When the ban is introduced, landlords and letting agents will be prohibited from charging fees related to a tenancy. These include administration fees, referencing fees and third-party fees, to name but a few. If any landlord or agent is found to be charging the fees included in the ban, they can be fined up to £5,000 for a first-time offence and an unlimited amount if they reoffend within five years.
However, the new laws have several intricate details that could easily be missed, and could put landlords in hot water, even if they didn’t mean to. Ian Narbeth, a solicitor at DMH Stallard, explained that all payments are prohibited unless they have been expressly allowed in the new legislation: “If landlords don’t follow the rules, they could for example be fined for not returning a holding deposit to a tenant who withdraws without reason. Forfeit the holding deposit of a prospective tenant who has told blatant lies, and the landlord could be punished if [they don’t] follow precisely the Act’s procedures”.
He also warned that landlords run the risk of getting prosecuted if they overcharge tenants, regardless of whether it’s intentional or not. Even refunding the money back to the tenant will not prevent liability. So, it’s extremely important that landlords are stringent in their research and cover all bases.
What resources are out there to support landlords in the run-up to the ban? The landlord and letting agency regulatory body, ARLA Propertymark, has provided resources to aid landlords. In April, they introduced the ‘Tenant Fee Ban’ toolkit, which featured fact sheets, videos and legal documents for landlords to utilise and answers over 70 frequently asked questions. They are also hosting a series of roadshows throughout the country in the run up to the ban, where they’ll talk about any updates to the legislation and give advice on how landlords can make their businesses thrive in the wake of the ban.
David Cox, the ARLA Chief Executive, strongly advised members to go: “We urge members to attend as we rapidly head towards the 1st June. Members can help reduce the impact on their business by being prepared, and with the ban fast approaching, they need to act fast.”
If you are unable to attend one of the roadshows, the Intus Lettings team attended the show in Leeds and it provided some very insightful information on the new legislation. We have summarised the main points of the presentation on our website; click here to find out more.
Anna Bibby, 15 May 2019