Since the passing of 1st June deadline, the Tenant Fee Ban is now law.
No longer will agents or landlords be able to charge tenants for referencing, administration or check-ins.
In fact, tenants will no longer pay any charges for the setting up of a tenancy.
This is all great news for tenants, but what about the landlords?
What is going to be the fallout from this latest raft of legislation?
- Is it going to be a boon for tenants?
- Will it lead to landlords who use agents being asked to fill the gap, with inflated commission rates (and / or rent)?
- Will there be a reduction in the services provided?
Whilst on the surface of it, these laws were introduced to try to help tenants, it may yet prove to do the opposite.
In Scotland, the law was introduced in 2012 so it has had time to bed down. The knock-on effect has been that rents have risen, by on average 6.5%. This may be due to agents increasing their commissions to try to recoup their lost revenue. Whether or not this is the case, it would be remarkable if that trend wasn’t replicated here in England.
Some of the lessons learnt from that exercise have been reflected in details of the English version. For example, one ploy when the Scottish law was introduced, was for the first month’s rent to be higher than the other months, thus recouping the tenant’s fee in the first month. This tactic has been specifically banned in the English version.
It is worrying that we have read on at least one Landlord Forum how these laws may be circumnavigated.
Worrying because there are still those out there who think that the law either doesn’t apply to them or they think they are smarter than the average bear and can find “loopholes” to climb through.
Be warned, there are no loopholes, back-doors or sly ways of charging tenants anything.
Landlords and agents may still charge for such things as ‘change of tenants on an existing tenancy’ to a maximum of £50 and ‘lost keys’ where the costs must be warranted and reasonable. So, charging £200 for a call-out to unlock a tenant’s door would be deemed unreasonable.
Landlords should also note that this ban includes them as well as Lettings Agencies. Breaching the law will now see offenders fined £5,000 for the first breach with fines escalating to as much as £30,000 for subsequent breaches, so ignore these rules at your peril!
With all the above in mind, agents may be having a serious think about how they can recoup their lost income from the tenants. Areas they might consider are:
• Raising the commissions they charge their landlord clients and / or cut the services they offer.
• Pile on a double figure percentage to invoices.
This would indeed increase their income but would not endear them to their clients!
Here at Foskett and Rodgers, we want to show our landlords some love and we won’t be doing any of those things.
- We firmly believe that some of the costs should be borne by us, so we shall not be charging for Tenant Referencing.
- Our commission rates will remain at 10% for the Fully Managed Service, and 8% for the Let Only Service and Letting and Rent Collect Service.
- We will not be charging any Administration Fees to landlords if they choose the Fully Managed Service.
- None of our services are subject to VAT.