Are Landlords unprepared for the ban?

Thu 12 Oct 2017

According to research, over a quarter of landlords across the UK are still unaware of the proposed ban on tenant fees, which could be in place as early as April 2018, or even sooner if the draft bill gets fast tracked through parliament. 

The ban will see both letting agents and landlords prevented from charging tenants for activities in relation to setting up the tenancy, such as references and credit checks. The Governments proposals suggest tenants should only be required to pay the first month’s rent and a refundable security deposit of no more than one month’s rent.

Of those who are aware of the ban, over half of landlords believe the ban will result in changes to the way they manage their property portfolios and increase in their rents to avoid losses. 

A summary of the ban

A Draft Tenants Fees Bill tackling fees charged to tenants was unveiled in the Queen’s speech earlier this year. The Housing Minister, Alok Sharma accepts that rents will increase as an unintended consequence of the ban but he did make a promise not to introduce rent controls, which are being implemented in Scotland. 

The Government believes that the bill will:-

•Increase competition in the private rental sector

•Reduce upfront costs for tenants

•Make renting fairer and more affordable for millions of renters

•Improve transparency for renters 

This means that tenants will soon no longer have to pay any kind of letting fee, whether they rent through an agent or directly from a landlord. This is likely to include charges for referencing, credit and immigration checks, drawing up contracts, inventories, check in and check outs and tenancy renewals etc. On the other hand, there are proposed exemptions for tenants’ actions, so they can be charged if they lose keys or break a contract.

In more detail, the ban, as we know it, will mean:

•Tenants will no longer be able to be charged any fees by letting agents, landlords or any other third parties; thus preventing them from having to pay fees through the back door by any other route

•Security deposits will be capped to one month’s rent 

•Holding deposits are to be limited to one week’s rent but if a tenant gives false information, causing them to fail reference checks, the money can be retained

•Tenants will be able to recover unlawfully charged fees

The details of the bill have not yet been finalised and no clear start date has been announced although the draft bill is expected to be published later this year. This is likely to include making client money protection mandatory for letting agents, which we welcome, as this will provide landlords with assurances regarding their hard-earned money. The bill will then have to be passed in parliament before it is enforced and will only apply to those renting in England.

Our verdict

As your agent, we hope this article has been of value to you and that you now have a clearer picture of what the fee ban is about and its implications. New legislation doesn’t necessarily have to be anything to fear as we are here to help and answer any questions you may have, and we will continue to provide valuable services to our landlords.

With that in mind, we aim to keep up to date with changes to housing legislation so that you can benefit from our extensive knowledge of the private rental sector. Whatever decisions you make as a landlord, we will continue to adapt and make any changes that are needed to ensure your business investment remains secure. 

Even if a fully managed service isn’t right for you, we can help you with certain aspects of the tenancy you do not feel 100% comfortable with, such as the rent collection,  professional inventories, property viewings, referencing, immigration checks, gas certification, tenancy wording and agreements, EPCs, smoke and carbon monoxide alarm checks, and mid-term property inspections.

As always, if you would like to get in touch to discuss any of the above or would like to find out more about what we can do to help you, please get in touch on 01480 218200 or info@lovettsalesandlettings.co.uk

"Been a tenant with Lovetts for the past five years In two different flats and always found them to be really helpful and friendly. Any repairs I had were always dealt with quickly. Only moving as being relocated with work."
Paul S

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