Look at Let­tings

Gloucestershire Echo - - PROPERTY NEWS - with Ang­harad True­man

WE were fi­nally given the dead­line of the 1st June 2019 as the date the Ten­ant Fee Bill will be in ef­fect. Al­though land­lords may have heard whis­pers of the ban, many have failed to con­sider the im­pact it will have for them. The ban works on the ba­sis that all fees for ten­ants are banned un­less the bill ex­pressly states they are al­lowed. Per­mit­ted fees are as fol­lows; Land­lords and agents will be able to charge the ex­act cost of re­plac­ing a lost key or se­cu­rity de­vice. A charge for the time taken to re­trieve this key or fuel costs will not be per­mit­ted. Late pay­ment fees will no longer be le­gal un­der the bill, a land­lord will be able to charge an in­ter­est on the late pe­riod of rent cal­cu­lated at 3% above the Bank of Eng­land base rate (cur­rently set at 0.75%). How­ever, this can only be charged af­ter 14 days of non-pay­ment of the rental pe­riod. A £50 fee for chang­ing a sharer on a ten­ancy will be le­gal un­der the ban, as will ev­ery no­va­tion to an agree­ment that a ten­ant re­quests. There­fore, if a ten­ant re­quests to have pets or to paint a wall mid­way through a ten­ancy and you must change the agree­ment as a re­sult, you will be able to charge £50 for this. An early re­lease fee is cur­rently al­lowed un­der the bill if re­quested by the ten­ant dur­ing a fixed term. The bill cur­rently states the fee should amount to the land­lord’s loss, but if the ten­ant re­quested re­lease in month three of a twelve­month fixed term con­tract, it could be nine months’ worth of rent. As this could be a sig­nif­i­cant amount, we are ex­pect­ing this will be changed at a later stage. A land­lord can take one weeks hold­ing fee from a ten­ant when the ten­ant wishes to take up a ten­ancy. How­ever, if the ten­ancy agree­ment is signed within 14 days by the ten­ant or the land­lord pulls out, the hold­ing fee must be re­turned to them. This fee can be kept if the ten­ant fails to sign within this time, the ten­ant pulls out of the deal or the ten­ant has not de­clared ad­verse credit. How­ever, the land­lord must write to the ten­ant set­ting on their rea­sons for do­ing so. Land­lords will only be able to take a 5 weeks’ worth of rent as a de­posit. You must work out the 5 weeks us­ing this for­mula: the monthly rent mul­ti­plied by 12, then di­vided by 52 and mul­ti­plied by 5. This gives you an ex­act 5 weeks rent. It is thought there will be a tran­si­tion pe­riod of 12 months af­ter 1st June where the fees in ex­ist­ing agree­ments will ap­ply. This means pre­vi­ously reg­is­tered 6 weeks de­posits can stay at this rate un­til the ten­ancy is re­newed (a re­newal is classed as a new agree­ment and the de­posit will need to be low­ered to 5 weeks). How­ever, af­ter 1st June 2020, it is in­di­cated that the ban will then ap­ply to any con­tin­u­ing month to month ten­an­cies started be­fore the ban and the 5 weeks rent cap will ap­ply. A breach of the bill is de­lib­er­ately se­vere; £5,000 for your first of­fence and £30,000 per of­fence there­after, how­ever just tak­ing one up­front fee from a ten­ant (bro­ken down into a ref­er­enc­ing fee, de­posit pro­tec­tion fee and ten­ancy agree­ment fee) could re­sult in 3 fines in one go, which could be even dou­bled or tripled for more than one ten­ant. Could you suf­fer fines of this mag­ni­tude and still pros­per?

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