From 27 May 2015 it will be mandatory for lettings agents in England to publicise the fees they charge. The Consumer Rights Act 2015 stipulates that agents display heir fees at each of their premises where they deal face to face with customers and requires agents to also publish a list of their fees on their website where they have a website. The following applies :-
•A list of fees. The list 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 within 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.