New rules shine light on letting agents’ fees

 

Tenants and landlords in Croydon will find dealing with letting agents a lot easier as new regulations mean the agents’ fees and charges have now to be clearly signposted.

Letting agents must display a list of their relevant fees in the premises in which they deal with customers face to face, and also on their websites. Further, the lists in their premises must be clearly visible to prospective tenants and landlords.

“Relevant fees” are fees, charges or penalties payable to the letting agent by tenants or landlords.

The list of fees must include:

  • a description of each fee, so that customers understand what it is for (eg, “administration charge” is too vague a term, agents must specify what it covers);
  • for tenants, an indication as to whether the fee is per tenant or per dwelling unit; and
  • the actual amount of each fee, including tax; or, if the fee cannot be worked out in advance, a description of how the fee will be calculated.

In addition, all letting and/or property management agents must publish with their list of fees:

  • a statement as to whether the agent is a member of a client money-protection scheme; and
  • an indication that the agent is a member of an approved redress scheme, and to which scheme they belong.

Similarly, letting agents who advertise on internet property portals such as Rightmove and Zoopla must provide a list of their fees.

Agents who fail to comply may be fined up to £5,000.

Councillor Mark Watson, cabinet member for communities, safety and justice

“Croydon has a high proportion of rented accommodation, so this is very good news for local tenants and landlords.

“The cost of renting is high enough, but this will allow people to know up front how much they will be expected to pay the agent for their services.

“Since October, it has also been a requirement for all letting and property management agents to be members of one of three redress schemes, and failure to comply will incur a similar penalty.

“We’re keen to protect our residents and the businesses that trade fairly in our borough, so, if you know an agent who isn’t publicising their fees, let us know about it.”

Anybody with information about agents who are not complying with the regulations is asked to call 03454 040506 or report it using the form here.

Further information and advice on renting can be found here.

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