The tenant fee ban is coming in 2019 - are you prepared?
What is the tenant fee ban?
The tenant fee ban refers to the Draft Tenants’ Fee Bill legislation, which (at time of writing) is still going through parliament. The main thrust of it is that agents will no longer be able to charge admin fees to tenants. It’s been moving quite slowly up until now but is expected to pass with little opposition in 2019.
Lettings agents and landlords will no longer be able to charge for the following:
|Admin charges||Credit checks|
|Referencing||Charging for guarantors|
|Property inventories||Cleaning services when vacating the property|
|De-fleaing a property where tenants had pets||Gardening services|
|Specify specific insurance companies||Renewal and exit fees|
|1 week rent max for holding deposit||6 weeks rent for full deposit|
What’s exempt from the ban?
|Deposits||Charges for defaults on rental contract|
What are the penalties?If a letting agent or landlord is found to have taken a banned fee the tenant can use the county court to get their money back. Assistance and support for this is also expected to come from local Trading Standards who will be enforcing this legislation and can issue fines of up to £5000 for a first offence. Any breaches after this could be deemed a criminal offence or the landlord could receive a civil penalty fine of up to £30,000 and a banning order. So it’s worth paying attention to the rules!
How can you prepare?In the Fixflo Report 2018 41% of lettings agents said that loss of revenue due to external factors such as the Tenant Fees Bill will be their most significant challenge over the next year. Small agencies are expected to be hit hardest and lettings fees currently make up £0.7 million of the annual £4 billion the lettings sector makes each year so this could feel like a huge loss.
It doesn’t have to be though - it can actually be a great opportunity to update your processes and company focus. Here’s what you can do:
- Automation is your best friend - tools like Fixflo can automate certain aspects of your current employees role, leaving them free to spend more time winning landlords and offering fantastic customer service. These will be the real differentiators in the industry going forward.
- Think about moving your let-only landlords over to a rent collection service, if applicable.
- Focus on company culture and keeping the employees you currently have onboard - reducing staff turnover and recruitment cost.
If you want to learn about this in more detail we've got it covered:
Learn how to navigate the tenant fee ban with one of our most popular eBooks of the year, which you can download here.
Or we're included it as part of our 10 Tips to Avoid Risk in Your Lettings Agency which you can download for free here.