A raft of acts were passed before Parliament was prorogued on 26th March 2015. Amongst them was the Consumer Rights Act 2015 (“the Act”). The Act amends and consolidates the law relating to the rights and protection of consumers.
Chapter 3 of the Act is of importance to tenants, landlords and their agents. It imposes new duties on letting agents to publish their relevant fees and if applicable, statements regarding their membership of a client money protection scheme and/or a redress scheme.
The stated policy reason behind the change is to encourage greater competition between letting agencies and for agents to demonstrate a level of service proportionate to the fees they charge.
In practice, from 27th May 2105, all letting agents in England (for now) will be under a twin duty to visibly display on their premises and publish on their websites a list of their ‘relevant fees’ and a statement of whether they are a member of a client money protection scheme and/or a member of a redress scheme (s.83 of the Act).
‘Relevant fees’ are defined as fees, charges or penalties payable to an agent by a landlord or tenant in respect of letting agency work or property management work carried out by the agent; or otherwise in connection with an assured shorthold tenancy of a dwelling house or the letting of such a dwelling-house (s.85 of the Act).
It is the duty of all relevant local authorities to ensure compliance with Chapter 3 of the Act. Any letting agency that breaches the Act, will face a fine of up to £5000 per breach. Particular attention is drawn to the consequences of a breach of s.83(3) of the Act – the duty to publish a list of fees on an agent’s website. Where a breach under this subsection has occurred, it is deemed to occur in each local authority in England and Wales in which a dwelling-house to which the fees relate is situated.
Elizabeth Dwomoh / 1st May 2015
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