The Painsmith Landlord and Tenant Blog has a good summary of the new statutory duty which comes into effect this month and ensures that all letting agents clearly publicise the fees they charge.
Given the broad definition of 'letting agents' (see article on agent redress schemes) this item is pertinent to letting agents, managing agents and any landlords who are now classed as letting agents based on the support they give to fellow landlords.
What needs doing?
Agents need to display prominently in each office and on the agent's website ( if there is one):
Who needs to do it?
Lettings agents in the Private Rental sector. Local authorities are excluded. The duty (and therefore any penalty) falls upon the agent and not salaried employees of the agent.
What does "fees" mean in this context?
For the purposes of this legislation "fees" means " the fees, charges or penalties which a landlord or tenant pays to the agent in relation to letting agency work, property management work or otherwise in connection with an assured tenancy or a dwelling-house let under an assured tenancy". Some exclusions are set out. Rent and Deposits are excluded ( but not "holding deposits") and some third party fees e.g. agent paying a contractor on behalf of a landlord.
Penalties for non compliance
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 has 28 days to respond. Trading Standards then decides whether to impose the penalty and if it does, will send a "final notice" requiring payment within 28 days. If the penalty is imposed an agent has a right to appeal through the FTT .
More detail can be found in the explanatory notes to the act.
When does it need doing?
Agents will need to be in compliance by 27th May 2015
In fact, most agents who are already adhering to the requirements of membership of a particular professional body and complying with the rules of their redress scheme, are likely to already be doing the above. Of course all agents should check that they are compliant with the new legislation, but those who are not already doing the above need to put measures in place to ensure that they are doing so by 27 May 2015.
Written & oral information and advice from the Portsmouth & District Private Landlord's Association is given in good faith, but no responsibility whatsoever is accepted by the Association or it's officers for the accuracy of it's information & advice nor shall the Association be held responsible for the consequences of reliance upon such information.