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Duty to publish agents fees proposed

Duty to publish agents fees proposed

During the last session of parliament, the Government introduced a Consumer Rights Bill to clarify and simplify consumer rights in England and Wales.

The bill aims to make consumers better informed and better protected when they are buying goods and services. Having failed to progress through both houses of parliament in time to become law, it was carried over into the final session of this parliament – giving the Coalition until next spring to ensure its passage.

Duty to publish agents fees proposed

During the last session of parliament, the Government introduced a Consumer Rights Bill to clarify and simplify consumer rights in England and Wales.

The bill aims to make consumers better informed and better protected when they are buying goods and services. Having failed to progress through both houses of parliament in time to become law, it was carried over into the final session of this parliament – giving the Coalition until next spring to ensure its passage.

Although not the original intent of the bill, its scope has been widened to include provisions for letting agent fees.

Clauses in the Consumer Right’s Bill state that a letting agent must display a list of fees:

  • at each of the agents premises where the agent deals face to face with persons using or proposing to use the services to which the fees relate
  • at a place in each of those premises at which the list is likely to be seen
  • on the agent’s website (if it has one)

The list of fees must include:

  • a description of what each fee covers or the purpose for which it is imposed
  • for tenants whether the fee is per tenant of per home
  • the amount of the fee (inclusive of tax) or a description of how that fee is calculated (eg the percentage of the rent)

The duty for agents to publish fees would be enforced by local authorities. A maximum fine of £5,000 for breach of the duty is proposed.

The bill proposes to give agents an opportunity to make representations and objections, before the local authority can enforce the fine.

What does this mean for letting agents in England and Wales?

The Consumer Rights Bill is currently going through parliament and is subject to change.

The duty for agents to publish fees is not expected to become law until Spring 2015 at the earliest.

Agents who are complying with the guidance issued by the Committee of Advertising Practice in September 2013, are expected to meet the proposed requirements.

UKALA will update members as soon as more information is available.