Landlords should get ready for impact of Tenant Fees Act

by Iain Mason

Published on 25th February 2019

The impact of the Tenant Fees Act is about to hit the rental sector, and we are urging landlords to get ready or face penalties.

tenant fees bill

Our legal team here at Optimum Professional Services have teamed up with Swindon-based lettings and estate agency Moovahome to alert landlords to the changes ahead.

There is a raft of new legislation coming in, which affects the private rental sector, but many landlords may not be fully aware of their obligations. If they aren’t prepared, they could face penalties or even prosecution.

One of the major changes – the Tenant Fees Bill, which was passed by Parliament in February and will be introduced from June 1 – is the ban on tenant fees.

Designed to ensure the only fees tenants pay are their rent and a deposit, this ruling means landlords must pick up the bill for all other costs. These include advertising, credit searches, Right to Rent verification, and completion of a property inventory. The ban on lettings fees will affect all tenancies signed on or after June 1.

The Tenant Fees Bill took a long time to get through Parliament, but now it has become law, it gives landlords the certainty they need to prepare.

Property redress schemes

A second innovation is the introduction of a property redress scheme for private landlords. It is already a legal requirement for lettings agents to be part of a scheme, and this is due to be extended to individual landlords. No date has yet been announced, but it is likely to come into effect towards the end of the year.

Landlords who let property through agents won’t be affected, as they are covered by the agents’ membership. A property redress scheme arbitrates when disputes arise.

Electrical safety checks and certificates

New rules are also coming in to ensure regular safety checks are carried out on electrical appliances, along with the introduction of electrical safety certificates.

The changes will add to landlords’ current obligations, which include the legal checks they must do before granting a tenancy (such as a Right to Rent checks), protecting a deposit and issuing a ‘how to rent’ guide to tenants.

Ashley Cain, Managing Director of Swindon-based Moovahome, said: “Along with the tenant fee ban, landlords who self-manage need to understand other legislative changes, such as being part of a redress scheme, having a complaints procedure in place and the introduction of electrical safety certificates. They also have to meet their current obligations, such as Right to Rent checks.

“Omitting these simple things in the letting process could lead to huge fines for landlords, so our advice is to get prepared in advance of advertising your home for let.”

Optimum and Moovahome plan to run a presentation for private landlords, to give them more details of what they need to do to manage their own properties and ensure they are fully compliant with all regulations.

In the meantime, if you are a private landlord and you have any questions about the changes coming in, please get in touch with the legal team here at Optimum.

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