Trading Standards have been announced as the new lead enforcement authority to be appointed in enforcing the upcoming letting fees ban while local authorities will be able to retain money raised through fines for non-compliance.
However, as thousands of agents operate across the country, difficulties may arise when having to ensure all companies are compliant.
64% of councils said they were yet to assess the impact the fees ban could have on enforcement.
Neil Cobbold, chief operating officer of PayProp UK, says: “The extra resource of a lead enforcement authority is welcome but policing the fees ban will continue to be a challenge. Consumer awareness will be a key factor. More informed tenants and landlords would be highly likely to notify the relevant authority when agents continue to charge upfront fees or do not cap tenancy deposits.”
When might the fees ban be introduced?
The fees ban was first introduced in May 2018 with the Government stating it will be introduced in Spring 2019 at the earliest.
Cobbold says: “This has led people to assume an April start date. Bearing in mind that there are still several steps for the draft Bill to pass through – including a report stage, third reading and amendments stage, we need to keep an eye on the movement of the Bill.
However, the fact that there has been no opposition and that currently there are no legal instruments required once the bill becomes an Act, the Secretary of State could look to sign the Act into law as soon as the process is due to complete at the end of the year.”
It has always been advised that the CMP legislation would be implemented first (April 1 2019) so the fee ban being introduced at some point in April 2019 still seems the most likely outcome. At this stage, agents should continue to monitor the news for government announcements and prepare their businesses accordingly. Companies that take a positive approach to the fees ban and look to benefit from a more efficient business model are likely to thrive in the years to come.”