Another Friday another Newsround. Here are the items from this week. You may also want to see my Westminster Briefing with Sean Hooker where we discuss all the changes.
Tenant Fees Act Guidance is published
Thank goodness we now have the guidance as it is going to take us all some time to prepare for this.
I will be re-doing our tenancy agreements and preparing documentation for Landlord Law members.
ARLA are already one step ahead and have now published a tool kit for ARLA members. So if you are an ARLA member – use it!
The Government guidance can be found here.
What will be the effect of the ban?
- Belvoir thinks that it will end growth and bring in rent rises.
- This report indicates that agent fee growth will result in landlords shopping around or self-managing (if you want to self manage – don’t forget Landlord Law)
The Housing Minister Heather Wheeler when speaking at the ARLA Conference seemed to think that rents would not go up much but did not rule out revisiting the ban if it is shown to have done so.
Letting agents – are you trading illegally?
Client Money Protection (CMP) is now law and mandatory for all agents in England. If you are an agent and do not have CMP then you could face a fine of up to £5,000.
The six schemes that we are aware of are Client Money Protect, Money Shield, NALS, Propertymark, RICS and UKALA, which charge between £365 and £4,685 a year – depending on your turnover, the funds you hold and whether you are a member of one of the organisations.
As discussed in our Westminster Briefing, if you are not a member of an organisation such as ARLA or RICS and are finding it hard to open a suitable bank client account – Hamilton Fraser ‘s CMP scheme can help you find a bank willing to do this.
We had the annual ARLA Conference on Tuesday (which I hope to find time to write a separate report on). Headline speakers were Dr Julie Rugg and economist Tim Harford. Along with Heather Wheeler the Housing Minister.
You may be interested to watch the excellent interview with David Cox below from Property Tribes which was recorded at the Conference:
It has been a source of amazement to myself and many legal professionals that there have been no big prosecutions of Property Guardians or legal challenges to their business model. However, Colchester Council has now brought a prosection reported here of a former care home.
In their report on the case, Nearly Legal said
This will hopefully embolden local authorities to toughen up on licensing requirements for properties occupied by property guardians. Since October 2018, the ‘three stories’ requirement for mandatory licensing has gone, so it is now even more likely that a large number of properties occupied by guardians would fall under mandatory licensing (5 or more people in two or more separate households, and shared facilities).
The list of issues with the Colchester property suggests why this is important. HMO management regs and HHSRS hazard enforcement await…
It looks as scammers are now trying to make out that they are NLA members to lull their victims into a false sense of security.
NLA chief executive Richard Lambert says:
If you receive official correspondence from a ‘landlord’ and are worried it might be a scam, often a good clue is that it will be written in poor English. Tenants should also remember they can check if a landlord is an NLA member or accredited by visiting www.landlords.org.uk/member-verification
Any tenant that falls victim to such a scam should contact the relevant authorities in their own country and alert the police in the UK via www.actionfraud.police.uk.
Here is some guidance issued by the NLA in conjunction with the NAS and the National Crime Agency:
1. Do not send money up front to anyone advertising online, make sure they are genuine first and view the property if you can;
2. Beware if you are asked to wire any money via a money transfer service, criminals can use details from the receipt to withdraw money from another location;
3. To use only government approved deposit schemes;
4. Contact the organisations the landlord claims to be associated with in order to verify their status. Tenants wanting to check whether a prospective landlord is a member of the NLA or accredited should ask them for their membership number, then go to landlords.org.uk/member-verification;
5. Overseas applicants needing to secure accommodation before they arrive in the UK should first seek the help of the employer or university they are coming to;
6. Get paperwork and proof: ask for a copy of the tenancy agreement or safety certificates to confirm that the “landlord” has a genuine legal connection with property.
- Large fines for a landlord accused of harassing two tenants out of their homes
- The Universal Credit landlord request for managed payment or rent arrears deduction online service has been updated – see here.
- TDS has published a guide for inventories check in and check out reports
Newsround will be back next week.