The Equalities and Human Rights Commission have recently revealed that 93% out of 8.5 million rental homes in the UK are not fit for disabled access, leaving at least 365,000 disabled people in unsuitable accommodation.
There is a pressing need for more accessible rental properties across the UK and the government is cracking down on landlords who do not make the necessary changes. However, this does mean that there is a large number of disabled tenants looking for appropriate housing.
From entry ramps to chair lifts, there are many ways to adapt a property for disabled access. Adapting a home and renting to disabled tenants could even open your property up to a wider range of potential renters.
Here, we look at ways to adapt your rental property so you can welcome a new target tenant group to your portfolio.
UK Rights for Disabled Tenants
Before you start thinking about adapting your property, it’s important to be aware of disabled people’s rights in the UK.
The Equality Act 2010 set out ways to protect people in society, including the rental sector.
According to the Act, a person has a disability if;
- The person has a physical or mental impairment, and
- This impairment has a substantial, long-term effect on their ability to carry out day-to-day activities.
Now, let’s look at your responsibilities as a property professional.
Laws for Private Landlords and Letting Agents
It is against the law for a landlord to discriminate against a disabled tenant. For example, as a landlord, letting or estate agent it is illegal to;
- Refuse to rent to a disabled person because of their disability
- Refuse to allow a guide dog or assistance dog under the no pets rule
- Charge higher rent or deposit to disabled tenants
- Refuse access to additional facilities that are available to other tenants (e.g. laundry room or parking space)
- Evict a tenant due to disability or illness
- Give tenants a less secure tenancy agreement
If a tenant feels they are being discriminated against, they could talk to Citizens advice or the EHRC and you could experience serious repercussions.
Landlord Responsibilities when Renting to Disabled Tenants
When renting to a disabled tenant, you are responsible for providing necessary, reasonable adaptations to make your property accessible and suitable to their individual needs. This can include additional services or equipment known as ‘auxiliary aids’.
Auxiliary aids can include;
- Wheelchair ramps
- Written documents and signs in Braille
- Accessible door handles
- Accessible taps
- Special furnishings (e.g. raised toilet seat)
Refusing these changes could mean you’re breaking the law.
How to Adapt Your Property for Disabled Tenants
When renting to a disabled tenant, it’s likely you will need to make some changes to your property in order to make it accessible. These changes very much depend on the individual needs and requirements of the tenant.
Here are some of the ways you may be required to alter your rental property;
Installing Access Ramps
If your tenant uses a wheelchair or mobility scooter and your property has steps up to the entrance or between rooms, you may need to install access ramps at entrances.
Installing Chair Lifts and Railings
For multi-story homes, chair lifts and railings may be required for less able tenants. Railings may also be needed in bathrooms.
Fitting Accessible Kitchen and Bathroom Facilities
Wheelchair users may need lower kitchen and bathroom facilities which are accessible at chair height. Bathrooms may require a wet room and accessible toilets.
Doors and entrance ways may need to be widened to allow for safe wheelchair access. (Usually 750mm)
Raised Plugs and Features
Features such as plugs and light fixtures will need to be accessible to your tenant(s).
Ground Floor Level Access
Some disabled tenants will require ground floor level access. You will need to provide a bathroom, bedroom and kitchen at ground level.
Your tenant may need access to a parking space which is easily accessible from the property.
Written Signs and Documents in Braille
Visually impaired tenants may require all tenancy documents and signs throughout the home to be provided in Braille. This includes features such as fire safety notices. Tenants with learning disabilities may ask for documents provided in alternative formats.
Covering the Costs of Adapting a Property
You may be thinking about the cost of these changes and how you’re going to cover them.
It’s true that some of these adaptations involve significant work, costing around £20,000 to adapt a standard property.
However, there are ways to help cover the costs;
Disabled Facilities Grants (DFG)
Landlords and tenant alike can apply for a disabled facilities grant which provides funds for adaptations. This grant is supplied by the local council and is subject to an eligibility test where an occupational therapist will assess the property and the adaptations needed before making a decision.
The amount you receive depends on the changes needed, but sums of up to £25,000 can be granted.
To apply, contact your local council.
Remember, if you fail to make the necessary changes, it could cost you a whole lot more in legal costs if the case goes to court!
A Helping Hand from No Letting Go
While this information may appear daunting at first, No Letting Go are on hand to help;
- For example, our 360 Virtual Tour and Photography service allows potential tenants to view your property from any location- solving accessibility issues for many disabled tenants.
- Providing a safe, comfortable and accessible home is particularly important when renting to disabled tenants. All of our property services are designed to streamline your workload and ensure your property is fully compliant with current health, safety and legal regulations.
- Once you’ve made these adaptations to your rental property, it’s important to protect your investment. Our professional inventory service helps to safeguard your property by providing evidence of the condition of your property at the start and end of the tenancy.
Discover the rest of our property management services to find out how we could help.
No Letting Go have entered the ESTAS for 2020, and now we need you to cast your votes!
The ESTAS Customer Service Awards are one of the biggest events in any property professional’s calendar. Celebrating exceptional customer service across the property sector, from estate agents to conveyancers and industry suppliers, the ESTAS help companies like ours maintain a high standard of care.
Here’s more about the awards and how you can get involved;
Update: No Letting Go Shortlisted for ESTAS Awards
We’d like to thank you all for your support over the last few months, your votes really made a difference as we are proud to announce that No Letting Go have been shortlisted for the ESTAS awards as a supplier to the Letting industry.
The No Letting Go team will be attending the awards dinner this May, so check our social media channels for updates.
What are the ESTAS?
The annual ESTAS awards take place in Spring and Autumn, attracting the top players in the UK’s property and lettings industry.
The purpose of the awards programme is to celebrate excellent customer service and recognise the companies going above and beyond for their clients.
How Does it Work?
Once a company has signed up to the ESTAS programme, they are then open to receive feedback from their clients and customers.
The awards are based purely on feedback from customers, ensuring honesty and transparency in the voting process. All reviews and votes will be verified by the ESTAS group.
Once all reviews and votes are counted and compared across the other property companies in the running, the winners are celebrated at the prestigious ESTAS awards ceremony.
The ESTAS Awards Ceremony
Over 1000 guests gather for the ESTAS Estate & Letting Agent Awards in May where property TV personality, Phil Spencer presents the award.
The ESTAS conveyancer awards are held in October.
Why Should I Vote?
For landlords and property professionals, reviewing the companies you work with will help improve overall customer service in the industry.
By providing honest feedback from clients and customers, the platform encourages agencies in the property industry to constantly improve their customer care. The official ESTAS stamp means that all feedback is authorised and regulated.
At No Letting Go, keeping track of our performance only makes us want to strive for more and provide the best services for our clients.
For prospective tenants, the home moving process can be stressful and complicated without a little help from the right places. The ESTAS provide a platform for honest feedback, helping you find trusted professionals. This gives you the peace of mind you need that your chosen property professionals are up to scratch.
Why No Letting Go?
At No Letting Go, we’re dedicated to providing the best customer service for our clients and customers. Across all of our branches throughout the UK, our franchisees receive extensive training in how to deliver our services and put the customer at the heart of everything they do.
Here’s a little reminder about the services we provide;
Professional Inventory Services
We offer a professional, unbiased property inventory service to help settle disputes through effective negotiation and provide the evidence needed for end of tenancy deposit claims. Using the very latest technology and audit tracking, our reports act as your compliance manager, including relevant health and safety checks.
Health and Safety Reports
Health and safety reports include Smoke and C0 reports, HHSRS and Legionella risk assessment.
Mid-Term Reports and Inspections
Reports and inspections ensure tenants are meeting their contractual obligations. They also check the wear and tear of a property and assess the satisfaction of tenants.
Our pre-check out service ensures that tenants are aware of how the property is expected to be returned at the end of the tenancy. This helps to prevent disputes before issues arise.
Open House Viewings
We can provide and facilitate property viewings on the landlord or estate agent’s behalf.
We have over 65 No Letting Go offices throughout the UK lead by dedicated franchisees with excellent knowledge of the local property market.
At local level, we pride ourselves in the turnaround time of our services. We achieve better or equal returns of our reports with our service level agreement time over 98.4% of the time.
Real Time Support
We offer real-time support for landlords and property professionals via a live and online support centre to get you the help you need instantly.
Latest Property Technology
We use the latest in property inventory systems to collect, prepare, report and manage information. The Kaptur system is designed for busy property professionals, helping to streamline your workload.
Previous Awards and Recognition
We’re proud to be Lettings Supplier of the Year 2016 and Best Inventory Supplier 2009 award winners. We’re also accredited by Safe Contractor, the British Franchise Association (BFA), Property Redress Scheme (PRS) and are regulated by Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA:PropertyMark).
Supporting No Letting Go
No Letting Go have an exceptional record for reliability, quality and professionalism. We have had less than 0.001% of reports losing a dispute since we started (as reported to us) and had no reported full lost cases as a result of using the complete No Letting Go service.
But don’t just take our word for it! Head over to our website where you can find customer testimonials and a full list of our property management services.
If you’ve worked with us or used any of our services, we’d love some feedback! Vote in the ESTAS awards 2020 to get your voice heard!
Landlords and property professionals get ready!
Thanks to the introduction of the Tenant Fees Act on 1st June, you’re likely to see an influx of tenants looking to benefit from this ban on tenant fees.
Recommendations from No Letting Go have recently been featured in the Property Reporter, exploring the impact of this upcoming ban on tenant activity and how landlords and property professionals can get prepared.
Read on to find out how to prepare for the tenant fees ban with our handy quiz and guide.
What is the Tenant Fees Act 2019?
The Act sets out new rules and standards for landlords and letting agents, banning several upfront fees.
This ban includes the following:
- Security deposits must not exceed the cost of five weeks rent
- Holding deposits must not exceed one weeks rent (and should be refundable to the tenant)
- The fee to change a tenancy will be capped at £50
Any breaches to these new standards could result in hefty financial penalties from the enforcement authorities, and landlords will be unable to seize possession of a property through section 21 notices until they have repaid these charges.
When is the Tenant Fee Ban Coming In?
The Tenant Fees Bill was first proposed by the government in 2017 with the aim of making renting more affordable for tenants.
The Tenant Fee Act comes into force on 1 June 2019 from which date landlords and lettings agents will no longer be allowed to charge fees as described above.
Tenant Fee Ban Update: Impact on Tenant Activity
Research from the Deposit Protection Service (DPS) identified a lull in rental activity during the first quarter of 2019 which they attribute to tenants delaying moving until this ban becomes law on 1st June.
According to Nick Lyons, No Letting Go’s CEO;
“It’s no surprise to see shrewd tenants delaying moves until after the fees ban and deposit caps are introduced on 1st June. The upfront cost of moving between rental homes can be high – particularly in London and the South East – so renters will do anything they can to keep costs down, even if that means putting their move on hold for a few months.”
The Impact on the Private Rented Sector
With potential tenants waiting to make their move, landlords and property professionals will need to prepare for a surge in activity after 1st June.
It’s likely that tenants have continued their property search over the last few months and will be ready to begin the rental process as soon as the ban is in place.
This swell in tenants could be an exciting time for landlords and property professionals, with lots of potential profits on the horizon. The better prepared you are as a landlord to take this on, the more you can benefit from this demand.
How to Prepare for the Tenant Fees Act
The first thing you can do as a landlord or property professional is to ensure you are fully aware of the details of the ban and which fees are prohibited payments.
The Tenant Fees Act Quiz
Here at No Letting Go, we’ve put together a useful quiz including all the important points you need to remember about the upcoming Act.
This short, multiple choice quiz consists of 15 questions encompassing everything from tenancy deposits to permitted payments.
Another way to stay ahead of the curve is to outsource important reporting and services to the experts.
The Importance of Professional Inventories
With deposits being capped at five weeks rent, landlords and letting agents will need to take extra precautions when it comes to protecting their rental properties.
If you own property in locations such as London or the South East, this change could make a difference to the amount of deposit you can ask tenants to pay. To compensate, having a comprehensive inventory in place can help when it comes to making deposit deductions.
No Letting Go provide independent inventory reports detailing the condition and contents of your property at the start and end of the tenancy. Using the latest software, the report contains extensive written and photographic evidence in addition to meter readings and safety compliance checks.
The benefit of investing in a professional inventory service is that an unbiased account can help prevent and resolve any conflicts that may arise.
For lettings agents, partnering with us could save time and money at what looks set to be a busy period this June. Outsourcing this administrative work will free up time to provide a personalised service to your clients.
Get Prepared with No Letting Go
To ensure you have everything in place before 1st June, it’s best to start preparing now. Once you’ve got clued up and taken our quiz, it’s time to think about streamlining your workload.
No Letting Go provides services encompassing everything from right to rent checks and house viewings to unbiased property inventory reports.
Browse our full list of services here to find out how we can help you navigate this transition.
Ending a tenancy can be awkward for both tenants and property professionals. Dealing with tenancy deposit returns, outstanding rent and resolving disputes can take time and a lot of effort. So, how can tenants and landlords alike ensure the end of tenancy goes smoothly?
No Letting Go’s chief operations officer, Lisa Williamson recently joined Richard Blanco on his podcast ‘Inside Property’ to discuss the types of issues that can arise and how to resolve them through unbiased, end of tenancy services.
Lisa was joined by Suzy Hershman, head of dispute resolution at My Deposits, and Al McClenahan, the director of Justice4Tenants to get a full picture from all sides of the story.
Here is a roundup of the key insights that came out of the programme;
Start as You Mean to End
Lisa’s top tip on ending a tenancy well is to determine a clear position from the start. The way to do this is through a well thought out inventory including detailed but concise information, clear photographs and a comprehensive list of contents and condition.
Creating a tenancy format which is easy to read by both parties is essential for avoiding confusion at the end of the tenancy.
Another tip for landlords from Lisa is to ensure that tenants sign the inventory report to avoid deduction disputes during check out.
An Unbiased Outlook is Key
One question that arose in the podcast was whether landlords should create their own inventory reports.
While it’s completely fair for a landlord to perform their own survey, they run the risk of using emotional language which can be interpreted in different ways.
This is where an independent inventory service can resolve issues. No Letting Go inventory reports include a glossary of terms to determine the condition and cleanliness of items in the property. For example, rather than a landlord using the word ‘immaculate’ to describe a piece of furniture which could come across as biased or open to interpretation, instead ‘professionally clean’ is a clearly explained term in the NLG glossary.
Another benefit of using a professional, unbiased property inventory service is that in the case of a dispute over deposit returns, judicators can clearly understand the benchmarks.
Are Pre-Check Out Meetings A Good Idea?
As an active landlord himself, Richard highlighted the benefit of arranging pre-check out meetings with tenants to go over what is expected of them during the moving out process.
This all sounds well and good, but the question is, who will pay for it? Landlords and tenants may be reluctant to fork out this extra cost, but it could save money further down the line.
Alternatively, providing tenants with an end of tenancy letter detailing all the tasks that need to be completed before moving out is a great way to prevent confusion over where responsibilities lie. This can include the date and time of the key handover and what needs to be cleaned.
End of Tenancy Property Cleaning
As the head of dispute resolution at My Deposit, Suzie Hershman has a lot of experience dealing with the common issues affecting landlords and tenants during the checkout process.
According to Suzie, cleaning comes top of the list when it comes to end of tenancy disputes.
The resolution is simple. Start with an inventory report which plainly states the condition of the property and how it is expected to be maintained. For example, if the property has a garden, the inventory needs to clearly state that the grass needs to be cut or the paving de-weeded and power washed before leaving the property.
Other issues that can arise include whose responsibility it is for window cleaning and whether professional carpet cleaning needs to be undertaken.
The main rule of thumb for tenants, is that the property needs to be returned in the original state as at the start of the tenancy. This may involve hiring an end of tenancy cleaning service (make sure you keep the receipt as evidence) or giving the property a thorough clean yourself. Either way, ensure you leave on the last day of your tenancy confident everything looks the same as it did when you moved in!
Fair wear and tear can be a bit of a grey area when it comes to cleaning. Suzie recommends that landlords should think of the items in their property as having a lifespan. A carpet or decor has an average lifespan of 5 years, which needs to be taken into consideration during the checkout report.
Managing the Landlord-Tenant Relationship
Al attributed this to poor inventories which leave too much room for interpretation and miscommunication, which is more common when landlords create their own.
Another common reason for strained relationships is when tenants are in arrears at the end of the tenancy agreement. To minimise conflict, Al recommends that tenants are as open and communicative with their landlord about their financial difficulties to help landlords remain understanding until the issue can be resolved.
However, when landlords view their role purely from an investment perspective and ignore the human side of the relationship, this is when disputes are likely to arise. The lesson? Landlords who are more understanding and willing to negotiate are likely to have better relationships with their tenants, resulting in a smoother parting.
How Will the Letting Agency Fee Ban Effect End of Tenancy?
There has been much discussion over what changes the letting agency fee ban will bring to the industry. However, for now, Lisa doesn’t see much change to the way check out reports will be processed.
Currently, landlords usually pay for the inventory, and for either check-in or check-out services while the tenant pays for the other. This means there is only one cost that needs to be recuperated by landlords.
According to Lisa, most landlords and tenants can see the advantages of having these services managed by independent professionals.
Unbiased End of Tenancy Services from No Letting Go
To ensure the end of a tenancy goes as smoothly as possible and you retain a positive relationship throughout, using an independent property service can help resolve issues and disputes before they arise.
No Letting Go provides all the documentation needed at the start and end of a tenancy to determine how much money is deducted from the deposit. Using the latest technology, No Letting Go can advise against fair wear and tear and create reports to ensure you are fully compliant with regulations.
To see the full list of services on offer, head to the No Letting Go services page.
There tends to be a focus on the need for potential tenants to make a positive first impression to secure the best rental properties. But making a good impression is just as vital for landlords and letting agents.
To attract reliable and responsible tenants, property professionals need to demonstrate their value to establish trust and secure an agreement.
Creating a positive first impression can determine what kind of relationship you’ll have with your tenant moving forward, not to mention positioning your property as an attractive prospect for renters.
If you’re a letting agent, property professional, or landlord, we’ve got some friendly guidance on how to give a good first impression to tenants and establish trust from the get-go.
What are Tenants Looking for in a Landlord or Letting Agent?
To make the right impression, it’s helpful to think about what a tenant wants from the person or company managing their rental property.
Top of the list are reliability, honesty and being easily reachable. Whether it’s at the first viewing, at the lettings or estate agency office or the first meeting between tenant and landlord, follow these tips to make a great first impression:
Be on Time
An obvious point to start with. Tenants want to know the person managing their home is reliable and can be depended upon in an emergency. Being late to the first meeting already puts you on the back foot.
If the first meeting is an initial house viewing, it’s worth getting there a few minutes early to ensure everything is in place and the property is looking its best.
Giving an overall impression of professionalism goes a long way in securing a tenancy agreement.
One simple way of achieving this is to dress in business-casual attire.
Know Your Stuff
As the main point of contact for tenants, you need to demonstrate knowledge about the property and local area to build trust. Before the first meeting, make sure you’ve got all the answers to potential questions to hand.
Common questions that might be asked by potential tenants include;
- Who are the current utility providers?
- What is the council tax band for this area?
- What day are the bins and recycling collected?
- Where is the fuse box?
- What are the neighbours like?
- What is the local area like?
Being able to answer these questions thoroughly and confidently will help to build a positive impression and demonstrate your experience and professionalism.
Friendly and Professional Body Language
Body language is key to making a good impression in any situation. From job interviews to meeting people for the first time, facial expressions and gestures really count.
Shake your prospective tenants’ hand while maintaining eye contact, smile, and try to display confident body language to really impress.
Stay in Contact with the Neighbours
Being in the position to introduce prospective tenants to the neighbours, or simply tell them who they will be living next door to, can go a long way in demonstrating your dedication to property management.
What are Tenants Looking for in a Property?
In addition to the way you present yourself, the way you present your rental property also has a huge impact on tenant’s initial impression. Here’s how to show your property in the best light:
Market Your Property Right
Most rental property marketing happens online these days. Be sure to regularly check and update any channels your property is advertised on to keep up a positive impression for renters.
A picture really can tell a thousand words and people expect to see clear, professional images when browsing for properties online. Any property with minimal or bad quality images will likely be dismissed instantly.
Include lots of pictures of all parts of the property and try to take them on a sunny day to show off your property in the best light.
If you’re a busy landlord or property professional, ensure your property looks the part online with a professional property appraisal. This service includes high quality photos and a record of essential details for marketing purposes, all uploaded directly to your platform. The easy route to impressing potential tenants!
Managing feedback is also important. Always reply to any complaints or queries online so that potential tenants know you are reliable and quick to respond.
Outward Appearances Matter
We’ve all heard the phrase ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’, but in reality, first appearances are important.
Make sure the exterior of your property is up to scratch. An overgrown front lawn, overflowing bins and scratched paint are likely to put people off before they’ve even stepped through the door.
Make Sure the Interior Lives Up to the Dream
When showing a prospective tenant around a property for the first time, they’re trying to imagine themselves living there.
Make sure everything is clean and tidy with minimal clutter to give the tenants as much of a blank canvas as possible to project their own visions for the future.
Consider A Moving In Gift
Whether it’s a simple, handwritten welcome card or a bunch of flowers. Providing a small gift is an easy way to demonstrate that you’re a thoughtful landlord or letting agent.
If you’re an agency managing several properties or a landlord with a large portfolio this may not be feasible. For smaller landlords however, it could be a well-received gesture that goes a long way in developing a positive ongoing relationship.
You need to assess whether a gift is appropriate from case to case. At the very least, provide an information folder with essential details about the property such as relevant contact numbers and rubbish collection days.
Ensure All Health and Safety Checks are in Place
If you can demonstrate that you are up to date with gas safety checks and Co2 regulations, your tenant will know you take your role seriously.
For landlords, demonstrating your responsibilities are being fulfilled puts tenant’s minds at ease. For example, landlords must ensure that smoke alarms are tested and working on every floor of a property. No Letting Go provide comprehensive reports which include a smoke and carbon monoxide safety section that will guarantee you meet all the requirements.
Tenants in the know will expect to see evidence and a thorough report will quell any potential reservations.
Invest in a Professional Property Inventory
Providing your tenant with a comprehensive, photographic inventory report sends the message that you don’t take shortcuts.
No Letting Go is the first choice for all types of property reporting for landlords and letting agents alike. To find out how we can help to position you as a first choice for tenants, browse the rest of the property management services on offer here.
No Letting Go is expanding. With over 65 branches spread across the UK, we are always striving to be the first stop for the nation’s property reporting needs.
Our professional property inventory services are now reaching further afield, with two new offices recently opening in Hertford and Basingstoke. Let us introduce you to the newest members of the No Letting Go team.
No Letting Go Hertford
The new branch of No Letting Go in Hertford, Hertfordshire is being headed up by Moira Hendrick. Moira is an experienced property reporting specialist with a great local knowledge of the property market in the surrounding area. Coming from a background of customer service, administration and management, Moira is well practiced in providing an excellent service for her clients.
When searching for a property franchise opportunity, Moira came across the No Letting Go scheme. According to Moira; “No Letting Go stood out because of reputation, low start up costs and support”. She is looking forward to building her business with the help of her experienced clerk, Danny.
The Herford team pride themselves on going the extra mile for customers, accommodating last minute bookings whenever they can. They welcome any property agent or landlord to get in touch.
07950 007 004
No Letting Go Basingstoke
The new No Letting Go Basingstoke office in Hampshire is run by married couple Rob and Margaret Rymill. While the pair have followed very different career paths, their knowledge of the local area has put them in a fantastic position to lead this branch. Rob has a background in the electronics industry in sales and marketing, while Margaret has spent her career teaching 3-6 year olds in a range of settings.
Both Rob and Margaret hope to spend the next 12 months developing their knowledge of the industry to establish No Letting Go as a centre for property management in the Basingstoke area.
07957 187 268 / 07538 111 718
What is a Property Franchise?
Franchising is the process of buying a ready-made start-up, allowing franchisees to launch their own businesses with the added support and security of a well-known company behind them. A franchise with No Letting Go offers training, branding and the expert knowledge to get your business off on the right foot.
Our Property Management Services
No Letting Go provide a range of professional, unbiased services to help property professionals, lettings agents and landlords manage their investments.
From Legionella risk assessments and CO reports to right to rent checks and vacant property inspections – No Letting Go are here to guarantee no stone is left unturned.
We specialise in property inventory management for which we provide a comprehensive written and photographic report of all items within a property. Using the latest technology to ensure landlords and their representatives recover all costs against tenant deposits, No Letting Go provides a trusted service.
To find out how No Letting Go could help, browse our list of property management services today.
There’s been lots of talk over the last few years around the possibility of abolishing letting agent management fees. Now, it seems, it’s come to fruition. On the 12th February, the Tenant Fees Act 2019 was passed and became law.
While good news for tenants, for lettings agents and landlords, this change requires careful planning. Whichever side of the fence you’re on, it’s helpful to have all of the facts.
That’s why we’ve rounded up all the information about the new letting agent fees ban and what it means for landlords, letting agents, property professionals and tenants.
What are Letting Agent Fees For?
Up until now, letting agents have been legally permitted to charge fees for admin, tenant reference checks and other costs.
The responsibilities of letting agents include sourcing tenants, collecting rent, and acting as a means of communication between tenants and landlords.
Typical letting agent fees for tenants should be around £200 to £300 per tenancy, however some groups argue that this figure has been greatly increased by some rogue agencies. For tenants paying higher costs, this ban comes as welcome relief. However, lettings agents who charge reasonable and necessary fees may think otherwise.
The Government Proposal
The effort to get letting agent fees abolished was driven by the government’s aim to make renting more stable for tenants. With 4.5 million households in England now renting, this market is growing rapidly.
While they accepted that many letting agents provide a legitimate and valuable service, the issue of varying admin fees from agency to agency needed to be addressed.
According to the government, banning agency fees will result in greater transparency for tenants, make moving more affordable and allow landlords to ‘shop around’ to find the best letting agent.
The Tenant Fees Act 2019
The proposal to ban letting fees has been in process for a number of years.
The ball started rolling in April 2017, when the government opened up a dialogue to work on the details of the ban. The aims of the ban were to make renting ‘fairer and easier’ for tenants by making costs more transparent and to improve competition in the rental market. This consultation received responses from tenants (50%), lettings agents (32%), landlords (10%) and other stakeholders (8%).
The Tenant Fees Bill draft was then announced in June during the Queen’s speech at the opening of parliament.
In May 2018, housing secretary James Brokenshire MP introduced the bill to parliament, which then passed through the House of Commons in September.
January of this year saw the ban being passed in parliament which was then cemented as law on the 12th of February as the Tenant Fees Act 2019.
What is the Tenant Fee Ban?
The act sets out the new rules and standards for the ban on letting fees;
- Security deposits cannot be more than the cost of five weeks of rent payments. (Unless rent exceeds £500,000 when it’s capped at six weeks)
- The ban includes capping holding deposits to one weeks rent and making them refundable to the tenant
- The fee to change a tenancy will be capped at £50
- If a landlord or letting agent breaches the requirements, a fine of £5000 is payable in the first instance. If a similar offence has been committed within the last five years, it could be deemed a criminal offence. Prosecution or fines of up to £30,000 could be issued
- The ban will be enforced by Trading Standards who will help tenants recover funds that were unlawfully charged
- Landlords will be unable to seize possession of property via Section 21 until they have repaid any unlawful charges
- Letting agent fee transparency should be extended to property sites such as Zoopla and Rightmove
What Can Landlords and Letting Agents Charge Under the New Act?
Under the new act, property agents will only be permitted to charge for the following;
- Early termination of a tenancy at the tenant’s request. This means the costs to the landlord or letting agent to find tenants will be covered
- Council tax, utilities and communication services
- Payment of damages in the case of breached agreements
- Late rent payment
- Replacing keys etc.
Can Letting Agents Still Charge Fees?
Currently, yes. The ban only comes into play on the 1st June 2019. Until the letting agent fees ban date, this practice is still legal.
However, if you’re a landlord or letting agent you might want to start thinking about this change and what plans to put in place.
The Impact of the Ban on Landlords and Agents
One issue that is being raised regarding the ban is the possible impact on landlords. Some are arguing that the ban will result in charges being passed on from letting agents to landlords.
This, they argue, is counterproductive as it means landlords may be forced to raise monthly rent collections in order to make up costs.
The Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA) for example, are against the ban and believe that instead of an outright abolishment, fees should be ‘open, transparent and reasonable’. In response to the Government ban, ARLA recommend that upfront fees should be banned, but letting agents should be allowed to spread these costs across the tenancy.
They believe that a blanket ban would ‘put additional pressures on landlords, with fewer tenant checks and a lower quality of service’ and that ‘spreading the cost of these services will allow letting agents to retain current service levels to tenants’.
The Impact on Inventory Management
One suggested outcome of the ban is that letting agents will start to take inventory services ‘in-house’. A guide has been created by TDS, Propertymark and the Association of Independant Inventory Clerks (AIIC) to provide information on avoiding disputes regarding poorly executed inventories and deposit deductions.
Speaking on the report, the AIIC encouraged unbiased, comprehensive reports to protect all parties involved. Similarly, Propertymark highlighted the importance of a thorough inventory and the need for an ‘evidence-based approach’ to protect investments for both landlords and tenants.
Be Prepared with No Letting Go
Whichever stance you take, it‘s best to prepare for the changes early.
If you’re a landlord or letting agent looking to get ahead and prepare for the changes, No Letting Go can help.
We offer reliable, professional property management services to help you stay on top of your responsibilities and protect your investment. From property inventory reports to appraisals and tenant checks, No Letting Go helps protect your property for the long term.
Browse our full range of services here to see how we can help.