Duty for UK lettings agents to publicise fees welcomed

Taylor Scott International News

Measures which impose a duty on UK lettings agents to publicise fees both on websites and in branches have been welcomed by a leading industry organisation. The new Consumer Rights Act stipulates that charges displayed must include a description of each fee and the service it covers and state clearly if the charge applies to the property being let or each individual tenant. The Association of Residential Lettings Agents (ARLA) said that it supports the view that letting agent fees should be transparent and this will help consumers understand what services they are paying for. ‘In the interests of consumer protection, we would have liked to see legislation go further than it did and continue our call to make it mandatory for letting agents to be members of a client money protection scheme,’ said David Cox, managing director of ARLA. ‘We urge the next government to review this after the general election as the schemes provide guaranteed protection to both landlords and tenants should a letting agent abscond or misuse any money they are holding for either party; such as a deposit or rent,’ he added. However, the association, which backs the eradication of unnecessary bureaucracy and red tape, it believes that further measures outlined in the Deregulation Act will have a detrimental and unintended effect on the UK lettings market. ‘ARLA greatly welcomes the new tenancy deposit legislation contained within the Act. However, the provisions in the Act designed to prevent retaliatory evictions by landlords, creates a number of unintended consequences,’ said Cox. ‘ARLA supports the principle of legislation seeking to stop landlords from evicting tenants in response to a genuine disrepair issue. The measures will mean that protections previously afforded to compliant landlords may be eroded by dishonest tenants using the new powers to defend against legitimate possession proceedings, possibly by intentionally causing damage to properties,’ he explained. He pointed out that Section 44 of the new Act, relaxing the restrictions on the use of residential properties for short term lettings in London, will have an adverse effect on the capital’s long established and unique communities. ‘The added ability for residential homeowners to use their properties as ‘pseudo-hotels’ will lead to a constant churn of short term tenants, eroding the foundations of existing communities. Moreover, the new measures may lead to longer term, more established tenants being forced out, an increase in anti-social behaviour, reduced security and an increased risk of crime for permanent residents. London’s success is predicated upon its varied but long established community identities, coupled with the ever growing strength of its booming lettings market,’ Cox added. Meanwhile, the National Landlords Association (NLA) is claiming a victory for landlords in Liverpool after gaining two significant concessions from Liverpool City Council (LCC) in the run up to the launch of their city wide licensing scheme. Although the council has refused the NLA’s request to postpone the launch of the scheme that is due to go live on… Taylor Scott International

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