CIEH calls for fines on agents who flout the letting fee ban

confusion over which Section 21 notice to serve

In a response to the government’s official consultation on the letting fee ban, the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH) have welcomed the ban as they believe it would remove some of the barriers tenants currently face when trying to move from a poor quality home, whilst improving the standards in the private rental sector.

The CIEH have called for fines of up to £30,000 to be placed on larger agents found to be ignoring the fee ban as a way of ensuring a greater level of compliance with the new law.

The environmental health body represents the workforce that carries out property inspections within the private rented sector.

Alongside their recommendation for heavy fines on agents who flout the ban, they also recommend that holding deposits should also be included in the ban.  The CIEH want to prevent letting agents from exploiting tenants by holding onto more than one tenant’s holding deposit for the same property at the same time.

The CIEH’s submission report also included several other suggestions, in response to the government’s consultation.

  • Tenants should be provided with accessible information on their rights and the responsibilities of letting agents and how to lodge a complaint with the correct enforcement body, should the need arise.
  • The letting fee ban should also apply to landlords and third parties to avoid additional charges to the tenant via other routes.
  • Premium parts of the market should not be exempt from the ban as it may create loopholes allowing agents to market properties as bespoke or upmarket.
  • The only exclusions to the ban should be for rent, refundable deposit, and for in-tenancy property management services, where this is due to the tenants’ actions.

Policy manager for CIEH, Tamara Sandoul, says the aim of CIEH is to help improve standards and conditions in the PRS whilst protecting tenants.

Sandoul commented: “The private rented sector is such an important part of the housing market, providing homes for people who otherwise cannot afford to buy their own, especially the vulnerable and those on low incomes.

“While the vast majority of letting agents are responsible, there are those who exploit tenants by charging them extortionately high fees.  A comprehensive ban on letting agents’ fees is a very positive step forward.  It will give greater freedom to move out of properties that are hazardous and in poor condition, which in turn should drive up standards and quality of rented housing.”

Tamara added: “We do not expect to see higher rents because of the ban as the cost of referencing new tenants is likely to be small in comparison to the costs of maintaining a property to a good standard.  At the moment managing agents are charging both the landlord and the tenant fees, but this ban should help to increase competition between letting agents and help to drive the total costs down”.

Full article available on PropertyReporter: http://www.propertyreporter.co.uk/landlords/cieh-suggests-imposing-heavy-fines-on-agents-who-break-letting-fee-ban.html

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