Reminder to letting agents of their legal duties
Telford & Wrekin Council’s new Rogue Landlord taskforce is urging letting agents to make sure they are aware of their legal responsibilities.
The taskforce was brought in as part of the Council’s Better Homes For All package to improve standards in the privately rented sector in the borough.
Later this year the team will carry out compliance checks but, before then, it is giving letting agents the opportunity to make sure they are doing what is required of them by law.
Letting agents must sign up to a redress scheme and clearly display which one they are a member of. If the tenant is in an assured shorthold tenancy, the letting agent must put the deposit into an approved tenancy deposit protection scheme. Letting agents must also clearly display their fees.
A new law was introduced meaning that from 1 October 2014 all lettings agents and property managers must join one of two government approved redress schemes. These schemes will give both tenants and landlords the opportunity to get an independent adjudication of complaints.
Once signed up, the letting agent must clearly display which redress scheme they are a member of.
Tenancy Deposit Protection Scheme:
If the tenant is in an assured shorthold tenancy agreement, the letting agent must put the tenant’s deposit money into a tenancy deposit protection scheme and give the tenant the paperwork to prove it has been done.
An assured shorthold tenancy is one that originally started on or after 28 February 1997, where the rent is less than £100,000 a year and where the tenant doesn’t share the accommodation with the landlord.
Clearly display your fees:
Customers should be in no doubt about the costs they will be expected to pay for renting a property. There should be no surprises.
The fees should be clearly displayed in letting agents’ offices and on their websites, in fact anywhere where they meet their customers. Agents who advertise on property internet portals such as Rightmove and Zoopla must also clearly provide a list of fees.
The list of fees must include:
•A description of each fee, so that customers understand what each fee is for. For example “Administration charge” is too vague, agents must specify what this charge covers.
•Whether the fee is per tenant or per dwelling
•The actual amount of each fee including tax. If the fee cannot be worked out in advance, there should be description of how it will be calculated.
Cllr Richard Overton, Telford & Wrekin Council’s Cabinet Member for Housing and Enforcement said: “The fine for breaking these laws is up to £5,000 for each offence so it really important that letting agents are on the right side of the law.
“Our Public Protection team is offering to help with advice on any of these matters and I would recommend anyone who needs guidance gets in touch with them.
“I would also encourage landlords and letting agents to join our new enhanced Landlord Accreditation Scheme. It offers them support and will promote their properties to good prospective tenants.”
To contact Telford & Wrekin Council’s Public Protection team, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01952 381818.
If you want to report an agent who is not complying with their legal responsibilities, you can contact Telford & Wrekin Council’s Rogue Landlord Taskforce on email@example.com or call 01952 381818.
For more information about Telford & Wrekin Council’s Landlord Accreditation Scheme, visit www.telfordhomefinder.co.uk