The Government should make better use of current legislation on letting agents rather than banning tenant fees, landlords have claimed.
The Residential Landlords Association (RLA) has called on the Government to increase the level of fines on agents for failing to display fees from the current maximum of £5,000 to £30,000.
The membership body claims a lack of enforcement on rules about displaying fees and disclosure of redress and client money protection has left rogue operators free to continue.
A briefing note ahead of a parliamentary debate on the tenant fees ban next week said: “The Government has so far not made use of any of the powers conferred on it in the Consumer Rights Act to make regulations.
“We believe that doing so would allow for immediate improvements for tenants and landlords without the need for further primary legislation.
“For example, under section 83 of the Act the Government could introduce regulations to allow for fees to be displayed more prominently and to specify in greater detail the descriptions of fees that are to be given to tenants.”
The document also calls for enforcement of the transparency regulations to be moved from Trading Standards to Environmental Health officers who “are better equipped to enforce the policy given that they have a better understanding of the private rented sector”.
It said: “The level of fine for those agents found guilty of breaking the transparency laws should increase to act as a greater deterrent.
“We would suggest this be increased to £30,000 in line with the fines that can be issued to landlords under the Housing and Planning Act 2016.”
The RLA is also proposing that any cap on security deposits should be at two months’ rent, rather than the one month proposed in the draft Tenants’ Fee Bill.