Date Published 06 October 2014
We, at Distinct Estate Agents, believe and have always believed in the transparency and fair treatment. We therefore welcomed Guidance for lettings professionals on complying with consumer protection laws, and laws about dealing with other businesses that was published by CMA (Competition and Markets Authority, previously the Office of Fair Trading – OFT) on 13th June 2014.
Here is an excerpt from the Guidance as published by CMA on www.gov.uk website (page 51) about costs and charges for tenants:
'5.16 Information about charges provided in advertising and other promotional material should be full, accurate, clear, and not misleading. It may be misleading to include information about only some charges, whilst failing to disclose other fees that will be charged, or only revealing additional charges gradually through the advertising and negotiation process. We consider that the existence and size of fees of any description is likely to have an impact on the average consumer's decision making, and we set out some more detailed guidance on making different types of fees transparent below.
5.17 Rent and other charges should be presented inclusive of VAT, including where the charge is a percentage of something else.
5.18 Fees should be accurately described, and clear information should be given about the nature and extent of the service being provided in return. This will help consumers to form a view on the reasonableness of the fees and to decide whether or not they wish to proceed on that basis.
5.19 Landlords and agents should not attempt to impose charges on a tenant or prospective tenant unless they are set out clearly in a contract the tenant has already agreed to, and the terms being relied on are fair.
5.20 Some types of fees are prohibited by housing-specific legislation. In Scotland, it is illegal to charge or receive any premium other than the rent, a refundable deposit (not exceeding two months' rent) and/or any payment under a Green
Deal plan, as a condition of the grant, renewal or continuance of a tenancy.
A premium includes any fine or other sum and service or administration fee or charge. This includes, for example, fees for carrying out credit checks, taking up references, checking and preparing an inventory or arranging duplicate copies of the tenancy agreement. The law in England, Wales and Northern Ireland does not prohibit agents from offering services to tenants and charging them money for these, except in some limited circumstances, for example where the Accommodation Agencies Act 1953 applies. '
You can read full guidance here.
There have been talks in the past about agents not publishing clearly all their fees but it was not compulsory to do so.
As a result of CMA guidance, from 1st December 2014, all Rightmove lettings members (excluding those in Scotland) must display specific details of tenancy fees on all their rental property adverts. Nothing will really change for us at Distinct Estate Agents. We have always displayed our fees and are therefore 'ahead of the game'. We believe that by being transparent we not only maintain our integrity but are also efficient as we are also saving time to everyone involved.
Contact us if you want to discuss anything with relation to your property; whether you are a tenant or landlord.