What Next as the Tenant Fee Act 2019 receives Royal Assent?
Here we are, just two years and two months after Philip Hammond announced fees charged to tenants by landlords and letting agents would be banned. We have read and commented on the content of the Draft Legislation, given opinion on the pros and cons, suggested alternatives and after Christmas recess, we were given a date - 1st June 2019. All that was needed was Royal Assent and some guidance from MHCLG. So whilst we await the guidance, what next? Planning and Preparedness- many Letting Agents have been re-examining their business model and re-evaluating the way in which they do business. Change of legislation, change of mindset. If you’re in this for the long haul, regroup and get ready for what’s to come. The unintended consequences are being felt across England, and every Letting Agent in England is in the same boat.
So, what next? We know that Permitted & Prohibited payments will be in place, therefore, the following needs to happen:-
Review your fee structure. Clarify (and discuss this with your team) what CAN & CANNOT be charged
Ensure that you abide by the newly amended Consumer Rights Act 2015 to avoid falling foul of any penalties
Speak to your suppliers, if you haven’t done so already, and discuss how they are helping your agency navigate the fee ban
Remember, when there s a change of legislation, this must be reflected in relevant paperwork, do you MUST update, application forms, holding deposit forms, the Assured Shorthold Tenancy, any Licence Agreements, the schedule of fees displayed on websites and in offices, and the applicants MUST be made aware of any FEES permitted by LAW in advance, in WRITING. Speak to the company who supplies your documents and check their time frames when new paperwork will be ready. The likelihood is that they are waiting for Government guidance before they start making changes.
To date so much focus has been given to the monetary side of things, rightly so, however, systems, processes, paperwork and people are all impacted by this significant change in legislation so planning forward to the 1st of June is imperative.