Business

Letting and Property Managing Agents

Keep ahead of changes

2014 saw many new initiatives in the field of lettings and property management. Some relate to changes in the law and others to new guidance issued by government departments. More changes are due in 2015.

Islington Council has the private rental sector as one of its priorities and the Trading Standards team is contributing to this with a program of advice inspections.

This page is designed to complement our visits to businesses by drawing together current published advice materials and items of interest. We will undertake to keep these pages as up to date as possible.

Further information for private landlords, tenants and owner occupiers can be found on the housing pages of this website via the link on the right hand side under "Related pages". 

Duty of letting agents to publicise fees

Since 27 May 2015 it has been a legal requirement for agents to publicise fees charged to both tenants and landlords. 

Fees will need to be displayed on business premises where they can be easily seen by clients and potential clients.  They should also be posted on the agent’s website and be easily found on that site.

Agents must also state the following:

  • The name of the redress scheme they belong to

  • Whether or not they are a member of a clients’ money protection scheme

The list of fees must include

a) a description of each fee that is sufficient to enable a person who is liable to pay it to understand the service or cost that is covered by the fee or the purpose for which it is imposed (as the case may be),

(b) in the case of a fee which tenants are liable to pay, an indication of whether the fee relates to each dwelling-house or each tenant under a tenancy of the dwelling-house, and

(c) the amount of each fee inclusive of any applicable tax or, where the amount of a fee cannot reasonably be determined in advance, a description of how that fee is calculated

This means that terms such as “admin fee” are no longer acceptable as they do not sufficiently describe the service covered by the fee. 

Agents that fail to display fees and the required information face a penalty of up to £5000.  

Go to Related Documents at the bottom of this page to see DCLG guidance on displaying fees. 

Here is a link to the legislation Consumer Rights Act 2015 Part 3  

Joining a redress scheme

Since 1st October 2014 letting and property management agents have been required to join a tenant's redress scheme. This is similar to the scheme already in place for estate agents. The scheme enables an approved third party to arbitrate disputes between agents and tenants.  Agents that fail to join a scheme face a penalty of up to £5000.

The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) is leading on introducing the new legislation. Click here to read their guidance about the schemes and law.

The following organisations have been approved to run redress schemes:

To read the legislation click on this link The Redress Schemes for Letting Agency Work and Property Management Work (Requirement to Belong to a Scheme etc) (England) Order 2014

The DCLG have produced information for tenants and landlords that you may find of interest. Please click on the links below:

Advice on consumer protection laws

Here are some links to published guidance covering fair trading and fair contract terms

Retaliatory Evictions and other proposals restricting S21 Notices

The Deregulation Bill 2015 which is going through its final stages in parliament and which may become law by the end of March proposes a number of protections for tenants.  These include limiting the right to a S21 notice if the tenant's deposit has not been protected. Where tenants have complained about the condition of a property, again the right to a S21 could be limited.  Read the draft law by clicking on this link - Deregulation Bill - and scrolling to section 28 onwards. 

Tenancy deposit protection schemes

There is some useful information on the website of the charity Shelter.

Model agreement for a Model agreement for a Model agreement for a Model agreement for a shorthold assured tenancy

The DCLG has produced a model agreement for use by landlords and agents. Click here to see.  

Immigration status checks of tenants

Currently under going a trial in the West Midlands landlords will be required to check the immigration status of tenants. For more information on this look at these links:

Home office guidance "Right to rent immigration checks

Landlords in West Midlands to trial "right to rent" checks

Court grants order Court grants order against local letting agent

The council took action following complaints received from both tenants and landlords about the trading practices of David Philips Estate Agents and after written assurances given to the authority by the business had been ignored. Matters of particular concern included tenants’ deposits not being secured and or returned, and rental income not being passed on to landlords. On 13 June 2014 an enforcement order was granted against Mr David Philip Copestake and D P Homes Ltd trading as “David Philips Estate Agents” which requires the business to comply with the consumer protection legislation listed, see order. A breach of a court order is contempt of court and could lead to imprisonment or an unlimited fine.

For further information contact Islington Trading Standards on 020 7527 4028 or email trading.standards@islington.gov.uk

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