New legislation brings greater transparency in letting agency fees
New legislation coming into force today (27 May 2015) makes it a legal requirement for all letting agents in England to display a comprehensive list of fees in their offices and on their website.
The new requirements introduced under the Consumer Rights Act 2015 herald a new era of transparency that will make the lettings process much fairer for all. From 27 May 2015, agents will need to display in a prominent location, clearly visible to customers:
- A full list of all relevant fees;
- Whether they belong to a client money protection scheme (if they hold any money as part of their agency service); and
- The name and address of the redress scheme that they belong to.
The new requirements will be enforced by Trading Standards and failure to comply could result in a civil penalty of up to £5,000; money that Trading Standards can then reinvest in their enforcement activity.
Since 1 October 2014, it has been a legal requirement for all lettings agents and property managers in England to belong to a Government approved redress scheme. The three schemes are listed below together with an web-link to check if agents are members:
Commenting on the new legislation, Richard Tacagni, Managing Director of London Property Licensing said:
“This new legislation introduces important new safeguards for landlords and tenants alike. Tenants will have a much clearer idea about fees charged by their agent, whilst landlords will know whether their money is safeguarded through a client money protection scheme“.
Anyone with concerns about agents failing to comply with the new requirements can refer the case to Trading Standards via the Citizens Advice website or by calling them on 03454 040506.
More detailed information including sample templates for displaying fees can be found on the Association of Residential Letting Agent’s website and a copy of the DCLG guidance is available here.