Spring 2019 Newsletter: The Tenant Fee Ban and what it means for you!
How does the tenant fee effect you?
With the glorious weather we have been having in late February in the UK I wanted to update you with all things letting in Brighton and Hove and the UK and specifically in terms of the Tenant Fee Ban legislation…
WHAT THE TENANT FEE BAN MEANS
The Tenant Fee Act became law after receiving Royal Ascent on 12th February. The law will come into effect from 1st June and has real implications (what recent law has not in terms of the property sector!) for us as a business and therefore you as our clients.
There are now only 2 fees we are entitled to charge a tenant:
- A reasonable sum to provide alternative copies of keys/replacement keys. Please note this does not mean we can charge them for our time, only the reasonable costs of the keys themselves!
- 3% above the Bank of England base rate for rent arrears after 14 days of being in arrears.This would be our charge for chasing the tenant but frankly there is no value in us pursuing this as if a tenant is in arrears they are unlikely to be in a position to cover fees as well.
The above are the only two fees we are permitted to charge a tenant. We can however charge reasonable costs if, during a fixed term tenancy or periodic tenancy, a tenant wishes to vacate and be replaced with another tenant. It is not fair to expect the landlord to cover the cost if tenants wish to do this and so we can make reasonable charges to ‘change over’ tenants.
As I have stated in an earlier newsletter the legislation is frustrating to me personally as I believe it is a political vote chaser. Its also frustrating to us as a business as we have never over charged on tenant fees and importantly have never charged you, our client, a fee for referencing the tenant and thus making money from both sides. I do understand that some agents were charging both the landlord and tenant, and indeed charging a tremendous amount, but like so many other pieces of legislation it has been written by people who have no real knowledge of the workings of the industry.
However, regardless of my feelings of the legislation, it is now in place and coming into force on the 1st June meaning that we can no longer charge the applicant to fully reference and check them in and we will have to pass some of this cost on to you. We are therefore going to make the following charges, where applicable, to fully reference and ‘check in’ the tenant;
- £100 per applicant to be fully referenced including Right to Rent check, credit check, employment, previous landlord etc. We recommend this option.
- £25 to carry out the Right to Rent check only. This is the only legal requirement.
- £30 to fully reference UK Homeowner Guarantor. We recommend they are requested where necessary to give added protection to you.
On each occasion that we remarket and secure new tenants for you we will of course advise detail re the applicants and request formal confirmation as to whether you require full referencing or simply the legal Right to Rent check.
There is one other part of the legislation that has a real bearing on some of the tenants that you may wish to consider in the future. We are now legally only allowed to take up to 5 weeks rent as a deposit. Now in the main, this will be more than we currently take; 1 months rent + £100, but it means that if a tenant requests to have a pet (we normally take an additional £150 per pet as a deposit) you cannot ask for a larger deposit. However you can market the property at a higher rent level if an applicant wishes to have a pet – I have a strong feeling that pets in properties will become a thing of the past!
GENERAL MARKET CONDITIONS
The market has been stubbornly quiet since the turn of the New Year. We have very limited stock available but whilst they are achieving views on line they are not converting to viewings and indeed people taking them.
It is surprising as the stock that is available is excellent and realistic in terms of rent levels so my belief is that Brexit is having an effect and we are liaising with clients in terms of small reductions to secure tenants rather than have empty units.
The value in the property will likely always increase in this area and so on some occasions a slightly reduced rent and securing a tenant is preferable to a void period.
Brighton and Hove licensing
No more news to report on this and so no news is good news! I will update when there is further information.
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