Hackney Council to enforce new rules on letting agents
Letting agents and property managers in Hackney are being warned to make sure they are displaying the fees they charge in accordance with the law, or risk a £5,000 penalty.
Hackney Council has said there are more than 270 letting agents operating in the borough and they are stepping up their investigative work to make sure agents are complying with the law.
The council point out that the fees must be on show in the shop premises and also on the letting agent’s website.
According to the council, the list of fees must include:
- an adequate description of each fee and its purpose;
- whether the fee is payable for the accommodation or by each tenant;
- the total amount of the fee inclusive of all taxes; and
- the method of calculating the fee, if the fee cannot be determined in advance.
Hackney Council will also be checking that all lettings agents and property managers are displaying:
- a statement regarding whether the business is a member of a client money protection scheme; and
- a statement that they are a member of a redress scheme and the name of that scheme, where applicable.
Failure to comply with any of these requirements can result in a penalty of up to £5,000. The new rules requiring agents to display this information came into force on 27 May 2015 (read here).
Earlier this year, Hackney Council say they had called on the government to make it compulsory for lettings agents and property managers to explain their fees, among other measures, through their 10 Steps to better private renting campaign.
Cllr Philip Glanville, Cabinet Member for Housing at Hackney Council said:
“This is a welcome move from the government, which has now implemented our demand, and it is essential that lettings agents and property managers in Hackney clearly display their fees in their premises and online.
“Letting agent fees are still too high and it is all too often an area of complaint, but in the absence of legislation to reduce or remove fees I would ask tenants to remind lettings agents of their obligations to comply with the law – which we will not hesitate to enforce where appropriate.“
Hackney Green Party Investigation
Meanwhile, on 14 October, Hackney Green Party announced that their members had visited ten lettings agents across south Hackney and found more than half of them were not displaying their fees.
Of the ten letting agents visited, only four displayed the fees they charge renters, whilst the other six did not and several could not provide a list of fees when asked, as required by law.
Charlotte George, Hackney Green Party Coordinator said “Several of the staff I spoke to did not even know what fees were, let alone the fact they are meant to show them clearly so renters can see how much it will cost to live somewhere.“
Hackney Green Party have said they will be providing details of the agents visited to Hackney Council so they can investigate further.
Hackney Council is encouraging anyone who knows of a letting agent or property manager that isn’t complying with the law to contact the Council’s Trading Standards team on 020 8356 4929, Monday-Friday, 9am-5pm, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.