Agents should not even try to find ways around the tenancy fees ban when it comes into force on June 1 – less than a month away.
ARLA boss David Cox warned agents in a webinar yesterday: “If you’re trying to find ways around the ban, I can assure you that there are no loopholes.
“It is not worth trying to breach the ban.
“There will be a fine of £5,000 for the first offence and then either £30,000 for second and subsequent offences or criminal prosecution, which is an unlimited fine and a banning order.”
Cox advised agents to “work on the principle that all charges are banned, unless they are specifically permitted payments under the legislation”.
Permitted payments are set out in the legislation and in government guidance.
He also encouraged agents who were aware of other agencies continuing to charge tenant fees after June 1 to alert their local authorities or contact ARLA. “If you don’t want to do it, we’ll do it on your behalf,” said Cox.
“We all know there will be businesses who will continue charging fees after the ban. It’s not fair on good agents if bad agents are still charging fees.
“We’re hoping we will get more prosecutions, and a more level playing field for professional agencies.”
Cox said agencies looking to recoup lost revenue should identify new ways to generate income, as well as looking at how they could cut costs.
He said: “You’re going to have to find other ways of generating income. You might want to consider charging the landlord for specific things, for example, referencing fees.”
He also said one benefit of the Tenant Fees Act for the lettings industry was “the explosion of PropTech”, which would help agencies looking to reduce their costs.
Lettings platform Goodlord hosted yesterday’s webinar, attended by 1,000 agents.
A full recording can be found here: