Agents and landlords in England urged to be ready for upcoming tenant fees ban
With just over two weeks until the letting fees ban comes into place in England landlords and agents are being urged to be ready.
Agents need to ensure that they are compliant with the new law and the Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA) has a Tenant Fees Toolkit providing practical tools and materials to support members through every step of the transition and beyond.
David Cox, ARLA chief executive, explained that there are answers to more than 70 Frequently Asked Questions to the Toolkit and ARLA has a series of upcoming roadshows which will update on the legislation and provide key insights on how businesses can thrive after the ban.
‘We urge members to attend as we rapidly head towards the 01 June. Agents can help reduce the impact on their business by being prepared and with the date fast approaching, they must act now,’ he said.
Ian Narbeth, solicitor at DMH Stallard, pointed out that all payments are prohibited unless expressly allowed. ‘If landlords don’t follow the rules, they could for example be fined for not returning a holding deposit to a tenant who withdraws without reason. Forfeit the holding deposit of a prospective tenant who has told blatant lies, and the landlord could be punished if he doesn’t follow precisely the Act’s procedures,’ he warned.
He also explained that if landlords overcharge, accidentally or otherwise, by even a penny they may commit an offence. Even repaying the tenant as soon as a mistake is spotted does not prevent liability.
Narbeth also warned that councils are tasked with enforcement and some tenants, especially those with large rent arrears or the ‘tenant from hell’ whom every landlord fears, may try to enlist over worked councils to threaten landlords with £30,000 fines and being placed on a ‘rogue landlords’ register. Landlords may have to spend thousands on legal fees or even sell up if they cross with crooks who know their way round this Act.
‘Landlords may even have to repay tenants who owe them thousands of pounds. Unless landlords take legal advice or are very experienced, they could lose their businesses. This Act, which MPs are so proud of, goes way beyond what was needed,’ he said.
‘In the wrong hands it is a rogues’ charter for devious and defaulting tenants,’ he added