Alan Cleary - Managing Director of Precise Mortgages
The new Tenant Fees Bill which came into force on 1st June is certainly something your customers need to be aware of.
The bill has been introduced to protect tenants from the unexpected costs and hidden fees that can blindside them when they take out a new tenancy. Agents and landlords are now banned from charging fees for anything other than contract changes or termination when requested by a tenant; utilities, communications services and council tax; and issues for which the tenant is at fault, such as the replacement of lost keys. The new rules also involve capping deposits at five weeks’ rent for tenancies below £50,000 a year. Those found to be in breach of the new rules will face a fine of up to £5,000 for a first offence, with further breaches resulting in a fine of up to £30,000 and subject to a banning order.
Now don’t get me wrong. Anything which protects tenants from unscrupulous landlords is to be applauded. What does concern me, however, is the sheer weight of new legislation which has been introduced recently. The Tenant Fees Bill is just the latest in a long line of changes aimed at rebalancing the relationship between tenants and landlords and delivering a fairer, better quality and more affordable rental sector.
In the last 12 months or so, we’ve seen the launch of Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards which means that newly rented houses and those with renewed tenancies have to achieve an energy performance certificate rating of E or above. We’ve also seen the licensing rules for HMOs extended to any property rented to five or more people who form more than one household, regardless of the number of storeys, and minimum room size regulations being introduced.
Combine those with the government announcing it’s planning to get rid of Section 21 ‘no fault’ evictions and the ongoing phased reduction in mortgage interest tax relief, and you couldn’t blame landlords if they’re feeling a little overwhelmed. I read recently that there are around 120 pieces of legislation that landlords must adhere to. That’s a lot of information for anyone to keep on top of.
Brokers who have got their finger on the pulse can really make a difference to landlords who need help in navigating their way through the regulatory maze. This is where Precise Mortgages can help. It’s our view that brokers are fundamental not just to their customers’ success, but also to the success of the wider market. It’s why we place such importance and invest so many resources in making sure you have access to the support you need when placing complex or unusual cases.
We’ve expanded our sales team considerably in the last two years. It means wherever you’re based, one of our friendly and knowledgeable business development managers is never far away. In 2018 alone, our team supported 272 workshops, seminars and round-table events around the country to increase brokers’ understanding of specialist lending and, in particular, changes to the buy-to-let market. In addition, our office-based sales support team is on-hand to pick up your questions, ensuring you get the answer you need as quickly as possible.
So while new rules and regulations continue to keep coming thick and fast, it’s good for you to know that there’s support there if you’ve got a question about any of the changes or need a bit of help in placing a case.