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  • Property-a-holics

    An end to tenant fees

    TDS issues inventory guidance ahead of tenant fee ban introduction

    • New guidance produced by TDS, Propertymark and the Association of Independent Inventory Clerks (AIIC) is designed to reassure landlords worried about the impact of the Tenant Fees Act
    • Known as the Tenant Fee Ban, the Act means tenants cannot be charged for extra services including independent inventories

    Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS), the UK’s leading tenancy deposit protection service, has released new guidance on inventory reports to support landlords and letting agents ahead of the introduction of the Tenant Fees Act in June.

    Also known as the Tenant Fee Ban, the new law – which will apply to letting agents in England – means tenants cannot be charged for a number of extra services, including the provision of inventories.  Landlords might then have to cover this cost themselves, rather than the charging or splitting costs with tenants. Without this option, some letting agents may choose to take the service in-house to minimise costs.

    TDS’ inventory guidance can provide information in order to ensure best practice amongst landlords and agents who may have previously relied on outside bodies completing reports for them on the basis that the tenant would be covering some of the fee.

    The guide was created by TDS in collaboration with Propertymark and the Association of Independent Inventory Clerks (AIIC) and will also provide clarity regarding deposit deductions and disputes over unclear or poor-quality inventory reports.

    Designed to reduce disputes being raised, the guidance gives landlords and letting agents the tools required to carry out a thorough inventory report.

    TDS previously issued guidance on inventories in a document entitled ‘A Guide to check in/out reports inventories and schedules of condition’, which answered a number of frequently asked questions and highlighted the importance of inventories. The new guidance is the first in the sector to pool knowledge from three industry-leading bodies, and contains the latest best practice and updates concerning the Tenant Fees Act.

    Commenting on the new guidance, one of its authors, Michael Morgan, Director of Dispute Resolution at TDS, said:

    “We are committed to continuing to educate the private rented sector and help our members navigate the ever-changing legal landscape. Our latest guidance on inventory reports marries that commitment with the considerable expertise of both Propertymark and AIIC.

    “TDS understands the concern of members on the issue of inventories as a result of the incoming tenant fees ban. However, we take the view that we serve the interests of all parties to a tenancy best by considering check-in and check-out reports based on their content rather than who compiled them.”

    Danny Zane, Chair at AIIC, said:

    ‘"IIC understands the importance of thorough, unbiased inventory reports, which are in place to protect all relevant parties, including tenants. We are currently working alongside Government policymakers as well to ensure reports are safe and secure for everyone. We would make the point of noting that many agents, in carrying out their own inventory reports, are highly professional and unbiased.”

    David Cox, Chief Executive at Propertymark, added:

    “The Tenant Fees ban will have a profound impact on the whole industry, but the sector must not underestimate the importance of a thorough inventory. They provide certainty for all involved, add clarity at the end of a tenancy, and help resolve disputes. In the new world after the tenant fees ban comes in agents will need to take an evidence-based approach to default fees, damages and disputes. Only by ensuring that an inventory took place can agents protect their clients’ investments and reduce costs in the long-run.”

    The new guidance is now available to read online here.


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    Official guidance for agents and landlords has been published on the tenants’ fees ban, due to come into force on June 1.

    https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk...Agents.pdf

    The guidance makes clear that a Section 21 notice cannot be served if a tenant has been wrongly charged.

    It lists the only charges that an agent is entitled to make, and says that any charge not on the list is banned.

    The only allowable charges are:

    • The rent;
    • a refundable tenancy deposit capped at no more than five weeks’ rent where the annual rent is less than £50,000, or six weeks’ rent where the total annual rent is £50,000 or more;
    • a refundable holding deposit (to reserve a property) capped at one week’s rent;
    • payments to change the tenancy when requested by the tenant, capped at £50, or reasonable costs incurred if higher;
    • payments associated with early termination of the tenancy when requested by the tenant;
    • payments in respect of utilities, communication services, TV licence and council tax;
    • a default fee for late payment of rent and replacement of a lost key/security device, where required under a tenancy agreement.

      Source article
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    What's the point of a holding deposit if it is refundable?

    Under what circumstances can a landlord keep the holding deposit (or at least part of it)?

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    Landlord and tenant law expert and Partner at Anthony Gold Solicitors, David Smith, is writing a series of blogs on the Tenant Fees Ban to help bring clarity.  You can find the blogs here. 

    See also:

    Mitigating risk through using lettings agents and ARLA: The health of the private rented sector where David Cox of ARLA talks about the Fee Ban.

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    Tenants will still need to stump up a deposit ranging from £630 to £2,415 once the fees ban comes in, Rightmove has warned.

    The portal has analysed its rental listings data for the first quarter of 2019 to assess the impact of a five-week deposit cap that will accompany the tenant fees ban once introduced in June.

    Based on a five-week deposit cap, Rightmove has calculated that the cheapest deposits will be in the north-east at £630 per property on average.

    The most expensive will be in London at £2,415 per property.



    Full/source article

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    The uplift in tenancy demand in the month before the fees ban was implemented was seven times the norm, as tenants looked to move after June 1 and avoid paying fees.

    Rightmove has reported that demand from tenants looking for a new place is normally muted at this time of year

    However, it rose 7% between May and June, compared with the previous four-year average of just 1%.

    In London, the uplift was 13%, compared with a four-year average of 4%.

    Rightmove says that agents are reporting an increase in enquiries from tenants looking to move, now that fees have been removed.

    Full/source article

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