Over the last few weeks – 12 to be exact, we have been working with clients to ensure that they are compliant with changes in the Private Rented Sector which seem to be occurring daily.
The workshops continue to keep our clients informed and whilst the key topics are very clear, we have been bolting on a few key issues on to the end of the course just in case.
A reminder that the Consumer Rights Act 2015 has been in force one week. A few of my clients have experienced random visits from Trading Standards Officers and fortunately, everything was in order. The most frequent question I have received relates to the word “prominent”. Make sure the consumer can see, locate your fees without having to play Hide ‘N Seek!
If you require clarification – a quick reminder:-
The list of fees must give enough information so that a consumer can calculate exactly what they are paying for, why, and how much it will cost. The list must set out whether the relevant fees are per property or per individual. Clarification should also be made if the tenancy is a joint-tenancy. The fees must be set out inclusive of VAT (where applicable) and where that fee is not determinable in advance, a description of how the fee is calculated, for example Landlord’s commission fees.
If the agent is a member of a Client Money Protection Scheme, this must also be publicised.
All agents must identify and publicise which Redress Scheme they belong to.
Trading Standards can fine an agent up to £5000.00. The first step is that they would serve a “notice of intent” upon the agent setting out the proposed penalty and reasons for it. The agent will have 28 days to respond. Trading Standards will then decide whether to impose the penalty and if it does so, a “final notice” will be sent to the agent requesting the fine be paid wihin 28 days. If the penalty is imposed an agent has a right to appeal through the FTT.
For the purpose of this legislation “fees” refers to “fees, charges or penalties which a landlord or tenant pays to the agent in relation to work carried out by a letting agent, property manager or other work carried out in connection with a tenancy”. This includes “holding fees” but excludes rent and the security deposit or bond.
With Election behind us it is back to “normal”.
The Queen’s Speech last month dealt with many topics which affect us all, but in terms of the PRS, one of the key points related to the Immigration Act 2014.
The government is promising to “control immigration” and put “hard-working British families first”. Its Immigration Bill is designed to support working people, clamp down on illegal immigration and protect public services. Specifically, it will include a new offence of illegal working – with police given the power to seize the wages paid to illegal workers as the “proceeds of crime”. There are also proposals to deal with unscrupulous landlords and to evict illegal migrants more quickly, while all foreign criminals awaiting deportation will be fitted with satellite tracking tags. It will also become an offence for businesses and recruitment agencies to hire abroad without first advertising in the UK – a policy which featured prominently in Labour’s election manifesto – and a new enforcement agency will be set up to tackle what the prime minister called “the worst cases of exploitation”
We will advise accordingly when the legislation will be rolled out nationwide.