The Tenant Fees Act 2019
The Tenant Fees Bill confirmed by The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth, on the 15th of January 2019, was given Royal Assent on 12th February 2019 and therefore confirmed into law as The Tenant Fees Act 2019.
This enacts the ban on tenant fees announced in the 2016 Autumn Statement, and will, amongst other things, prohibit agencies and private landlords charging upfront fees to tenants in relation to letting a residential property in England and Wales. In short it sets out that:
The tenancy application process has developed into a complex procedure, heavily laden with legislation. Credit checks, extensive referencing, Right to Rent checks, safety checks, deposit registration and the provision of legally binding contracts form just part of the process. The consequences for not completing these efficiently and diligently can result in the inability to re-gain possession of a property, significant fines and criminal proceedings for both the agency and the landlord.
Unregulated tenant fees and a highly competitive industry have resulted in an escalation of charges, in some cases to unjustifiable levels. It’s fair to say that some in the market are not clear as to what their tenant fees cover, and the reality is that these are not commensurate with the work involved. This is often due to agencies offering discounted management fees to their landlords – often to great fanfare – which are in turn subsidised by inflated fees to tenants.
The Government sites the Tenant Fees Act as the driving force for fairness and transparency in the private rental sector. In an industry so historically lacking in regulation – there is currently no minimum experience or level of qualification to work in lettings – this should be a welcomed disruption to those who share our desire to value excellence. Industry specific training, externally monitored qualifications and minimum levels of experience should all be as standard for those in a direct position to look after what is likely to be somebody’s most valuable asset – their property.
The challenge for us is to manage the increase workload this Act no doubt brings, minimise the risks to our landlords and continue to provide the high level of service we are proud to deliver. We have always been of the belief that disruption drives innovation, and we are well prepared at RAH. We have implemented several new systems resulting in dramatic improvements to our productivity of process.
Not all our improvements are digital or process driven. Our biggest asset remains our people. We are proud to announce that 100% of our lettings team are now members of ARLA PropertyMark. This is not a legislative requirement – no qualifications or minimum level of experience is required to work in our industry. This was not good enough for us. We set ourselves higher standards, so at RAH we are fully funding the Continuous Professional Development of our people via the industry leading ARLA qualifications program.
There is no silver bullet that will solve this challenge, yet we are determined to embrace new technologies and processes to manage and maintain our position as one of the leading agencies in the area. I am proud that RAH will be at the forefront.