For most, you may not be aware that since Wednesday 27th May 2015 all letting agents must comply with chapter 3, part 3 of the Consumer Rights Act, which imposes a duty on lettings agents in England and Wales to publicise all their fees prominently in their office and on their website.
This comes with great support from all of us at Chase Buchanan as we have actively pushed for changes in how lettings agents’ practices need to be more consumer focused.
We’ve all read the media stories and some have experienced first-hand the horror stories of the agency world. It’s no wonder why many clients’ concerns are actually more about the agent and less about the tenants, which is worrying.
What I have found quite alarming is the vast amount of agencies who still have not complied with this change, a £5,000 fine for non-compliance is a hefty bill, maybe they feel it’s not important enough and their hidden fees will cover this amount. For me, I think it’s very clear to see that those agencies who are not openly marketing their fees or have tried to get round the detail are simply not consumer focused and instead solely money orientated. Is that the mark of an agency that is thinking about their landlords and tenants? Certainly not!
What does the new act suggest? Fees to be quoted include any additional fees, charges or penalties which may be incurred during a tenancy as well as fees, charges and penalties which are referenced in Tenancy Agreements and in Terms of Business. So, documentation fees, inventories, check-in/out charges and late payment charges should all be quoted. The guidance confirms “The list of fees must be comprehensive and clearly defined; there is no scope for surcharges or hidden fees.”
In short, if you are going to charge a fee to either landlord or tenant, that fee needs to be set out on display.
Being proud of our 20 years servicing thousands of landlords throughout the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames, we think differently. Yes, we are a business like any other that needs to earn a profit but our success isn’t derived from our fees, it solely comes from the service that we provide for our fees. We clearly market our fees on our website, in our offices and on our Terms of Business. We do not need to hide them away, doing so only creates a poor service later on.
I couldn’t be happier about this as the change will bring greater comfort to clients. Included within the Act, agents in England must also publicise which Property Redress scheme they are members of and confirm what client money protection is in place.
It goes without question that trust plays the biggest deciding factor when making a decision to employ a company based on service. If you use a competitor, have they told you about the new act? If they haven’t it’s because it doesn’t work in their favour to. Are their fees clearly displayed? If not then it’s for the same reason, it doesn’t work in their favour. We strive to be as honest about our fees as possible so our Landlords and Tenants can receive a service they will love and we can be proud of.
If you wish to know more about this new legislation, then please email me. B.firstname.lastname@example.org Head of Lettings.
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