For tenants and landlords in England we have put together a list of 10 things we think you should know.
1. No Upfront Fees For Tenants
From the 1st June 2019 Landlords and letting agents are no longer allowed to charge upfront fees to tenants. Payments that are permitted include a holding deposit equivalent of 1 weeks rent, Upfront Payment of rent and a security deposit. This means that there are no more charges for referencing, inventories or any admin fees for tenants.
2. Holding Deposits
A holding deposit is payable upfront and is equivalent of 1 weeks rent (Monthly rent x12/52). As long as you have been honest in your application and you proceed with the tenancy within the agreed time, then your deposit will be returned. If you have been found to be misleading, lying or if you change your mind and do not proceed with tenancy within the agreed time, then your full holding deposit can be forfeited.
3. Capped Security Deposits (No pet deposits)
Any tenancy agreement entered into from the 1st June 2019, the amount for a security deposit is capped to the equivalent of 5 weeks' rent, where the annual rent is below £50,000. If the annual rent is £50,000 or higher, then a security deposit of 6 weeks can be taken.
This has been making it increasingly more difficult for those with pets as landlords are unable to accept a higher deposit to cover for any pet damage that may be caused. An option of offering additional rent is becoming more common.
4. Client Money Protection
A letting agent that holds client money such as rent or deposits must be a member of a client money protection scheme, these schemes make sure that tenants and landlords are compensated if the letting agent can't repay the money. The government approved schemes are Safeagent (previously NALS), Client Money Protect, Money Shield, Propertymark, RICS and UKALA Client Money Protection.
5. Lettings Agent Fees Must Be Published
Whilst the tenant fee act bans a lot of the fees previously charged by agents there still are some which are prohibited such as a fee for a variation of tenancy or if rent has been paid late. These fees must be published in offices, their websites and third party websites where properties are advertised such as on OnTheMarket or Zoopla. Along with their the redress scheme they are with and if they have client money protection.
6. Letting Agents Must be a Member of a Redress Scheme
All letting agents must be a member of a government approved redress scheme, these are The Property Ombudsman or The Property Redress Scheme. You can check if a lettings agent is a member by visiting the redress scheme's website. Busybee Lettings are a member of The Property Ombudsman. These schemes serve as a alternative resolution to a dispute between you and the lettings agent.
7. The Property Must Have a Valid Energy Performance Certificate (EPC)
An EPC is valid for up to ten years from the date it was issued and a property must have a energy efficiency rating of an 'E' or above to be able to be let out, unless it has been registered as exempt. It is highly advised to ask to see the EPC when viewing a property.
An EPC rating works from 'A' being the best down to 'G' which is the worst, here is an example of the graph below.
8. Protection of your Security Deposit
Your letting agent or landlord must protect your security deposit with a government approved scheme and provide you with the relevant documents. There are three schemes, these are the Deposit Protection Service, My Deposits and Tenancy Deposit Scheme. If you are unsure, you can check if your deposit has been protected by visiting their website.
9. Gas Safety Certificates
Gas safety certificates are valid for 12 months from the date they are issued, they are required where there is gas in the property such as a gas central heating, gas hobs or gas fire and all gas appliance must be tested and be noted on the certificate. If a gas safety certificate is applicable then it must be provided to the tenant at the start of the tenancy and renewed annually when the certificate expires.
10. Right to Rent checks
This is the check a landlord, agent or householder renting out property should make to ensure that the prospective tenants or occupants have a right to rent. This is easily proved by showing and the landlord or agent taking a copy of a passport. There is a "right to rent document checks: a user guide" on the government website that provides information and examples on acceptable documents. https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/right-to-rent-document-checks-a-user-guide