Proposed ban on fees for tenants
In November 2016, the government announced in its Autumn Statement that it plans to ban letting agent fees for tenants.
No timetable has been set for the new law needed to stop letting agents charging tenants.
Charges before you move in
Before you move in, most letting agents charge you for:
- drawing up the contract
- doing an inventory of the property
- doing credit checks to see if you’ve had problems paying bills in the past
- getting references from your employer, bank or previous landlord
- admin costs for things like phone calls and postage
You may also be charged for a right to rent immigration check.
You could also have to pay a holding deposit to ‘reserve’ the property before you sign a tenancy agreement.
It’s worth shopping around as charges vary.
Find out more about using a letting agent to rent a home.
What letting agents can’t charge you for
Letting agents should not charge you for:
- routine inspections during your tenancy
- anything they also charge the landlord for
It’s a criminal offence if a letting agent charges you to register with them or to show you a list of properties to rent.
What letting agents must tell you
Before you sign a tenancy agreement, make sure you find out about all the fees you’ll be charged.
Letting agents must clearly set out the fees they charge on their websites and in their offices. They must not mislead you. They must clearly describe:
- the cost of each fee including VAT
- what each fee covers
Fees don’t have to be published in this way for websites that just advertise properties, like Rightmove or Zoopla.
Rent in advance and tenancy deposits
Once you’ve signed the tenancy agreement, most letting agents ask you to pay:
Holding deposits to reserve a property
If you want to reserve a property, a letting agent may ask you to pay a holding deposit while they check your references.
Paying a holding deposit means:
- you’re committed to renting the property
- the landlord is committed to renting the property to you, subject to checks
Don’t pay a holding deposit or sign anything if you are not sure that you want the property.
Before you pay any money, ask the letting agent to confirm to you in writing:
- how the holding deposit will be used
- if it will be returned to you (this should happen if the landlord decides not to rent the property to you)
- if it will be used towards your tenancy deposit or rent
- if any of their fees will be taken from it
- when some of it may not be refunded, for example, if you give inaccurate information about yourself (they can’t legally keep all of it)
After you pay a holding deposit, the landlord shouldn’t ask you to pay a higher rent than you initially agreed. You have the right to change your mind and get all your holding deposit back if they do.
You can take the letting agent to court for breaking the agreement if they:
- refuse to give you back your holding deposit
- decide not to rent to you when all your references and credit checks were in order
Fees when your contract ends
When your tenancy agreement ends the letting agent can ask you to pay for:
- renewing your tenancy agreement
- an inspection of the property when you move out (if they told you about it when you moved in)
- professional cleaning costs (if your tenancy or deposit agreement allow for this)
You don’t have to pay a fee to stay on after the fixed term ends if you don’t sign a new agreement.
How to complain about letting agent fees
You must contact the agency first to complain about fees that are hidden or unclear.
You can complain to a letting agent redress scheme if the letting agent doesn’t resolve the problem. Letting agents must be a member of a redress scheme.
If fees are unlawful or the agency doesn’t belong to a redress scheme you can complain to your local council’s trading standards department through Citizens Advice.
Only agencies themselves can deal with complaints about the level of fees.
To read the official post click below
In recent years there has been plenty of coverage of floods and storm damage, but this has drawn attention away from the more common risk of ‘escape of water’. Rather than a large flood, it’s a leaking pipe or kitchen appliance that poses the greatest threat.
An analysis of a sample of 400 claims over a three-year period found that 65% of all claims were for escape of water. This type of water damage often arises from problems with any tank apparatus, kitchen and bathroom appliances, or pipes and is the most likely reason you will make a claim in the next year.
To make matters worse, a single water damage claim can often be symptomatic of a larger problem. Repeated claims for the same reasons will affect your policy at renewal. This may mean higher overall premiums, higher excesses or even a total restriction of cover for certain aspects of your policy – when you have made a number of escape of water claims in a year, it can be very expensive to find an insurer that will cover you.
As an example of the effect escape of water can have, a few months ago, there was a claim resulting from a leaking washing machine that has so far caused more than £140,000 worth of damage to a block.
The jury is in – escape of water is the biggest risk that you and your neighbours face. Knowing what to do at the critical time following a water leak is always a key priority. Your block can invest in equipment and measures to reduce the extent of water damage. But many steps you can take to minimise these risks are totally free and relatively simple.
If the property is unattended for some time – often during the holiday season – ask your neighbours to check the pipes and appliances and make sure they can tell you where the stopcock is in an emergency.
If you think your risk is lower in a newer building, think again. Escape of water claims are more common in newer properties. Across more than 25,000 units, we found that a block of flats built after 1990 is nearly twice as likely to report escape of water damage than one built between 1850 and 1990.
While floods and storms may dominate the media, it is still the washing machine leaking that poses the most common threat, and the newer your building, the bigger the risk you may take on.
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