The clock is ticking as letting agents are reminded that they now have less than a week to ensure that they fully publicise the fees they charge to both landlords and tenants.
This becomes a statutory duty on Wednesday, May 27, under the Consumer Rights Act 2015.
Agents must display a list of their fees at each of their offices, and the list must be in a prominent place.
There should also be a list of fees on the agent’s own website.
The list must include a description of each fee, whether it relates to each property or to each tenant, and what it covers. The list must cover all fees and charges payable to the agent. While you do not have to show rent and deposits, agents must show holding deposits.
All fees must be shown inclusive of VAT.
Where the fees cannot be determined in advance, there must be a description of how they are calculated.
If the agent holds money on behalf of clients, the list must also state if the agent is a member of a Client Money Protection scheme. It must also confirm that the agent is a member of a redress scheme, with the name of the scheme.
As well as displaying the fees payable by a tenant, the list must show those fees payable by landlords.
Trading Standards will police the new requirement and can fine agents up to £5,000.
Trading Standards would first issue a ‘notice of intent’ setting out the proposed penalty and the reasons for imposing it. The agent has 28 days to respond. If Trading Standards then decides to impose the penalty, it will issue a final notice requiring payment within 28 days. The agent does have a right of appeal through the First Tier Tribunal.
David Cox, managing director of ARLA, said: “We are reminding all our members to comply fully with the new measures. Relevant information should be placed prominently in offices where letting agents have face to face contact with clients, as well as on their websites.
“Any costs to landlords and tenants must be clearly defined and comprehensively outlined, including all fees, charges and penalties that may be charged before, during and after a tenancy.
“We urge all our members to make the necessary changes now before next week’s deadline, to ensure that they do not fall foul of this new legislation.”
There is very good advice here
ARLA also has templates for its own members here