Are you a private landlord?
If so, are you aware that the Tenant Fees Act 2019 came into force on 1st June 2019? It has the potential to make your life more difficult with plenty of scope to get things wrong and land yourself in trouble. Tenants can demand rent and deposit refunds and challenge a S21 possession claim.
Do you take a holding deposit prior to tenants signing your tenancy agreement? If so, this is fixed to no more than 1 weeks rent which you can only retain for 15 days.
Previously you may have taken payment from a tenant in advance of them signing your tenancy agreement. Under the Act the deposit cap now limits the amount of deposit you can take to 5 weeks and this cannot be taken until after the tenancy has been signed and dated. Although in practice you would ask your tenant to sign their agreement in advance of their move in date, and then pay you the deposit either in cash or by instant payment bank transfer while you are with them on the move in day, and then you can hand over the keys. Also remember to serve the deposit prescribed information once the deposit have been protected.
Mercian law cannot assist you with any criminal investigations commenced by the councils trading standards or environmental health departments. If you are being investigated it is essential that you seek assistance from a criminal law solicitor as the penalty charges are expensive. Up to £5,000 for a first offence and up to £30,000 for repeat offenders.
However, Mercian Law can assist with claims made against you by the tenant under the Act. If your tenant believes that they have been paid you a prohibited fee, they can apply to the First-Tier Tribunal, who can Order that the fee paid be refunded. If you fail to pay the refund as Ordered by the Tribunal the tenant can enforce the order in the County Court.
In addition, if you take a prohibited payment or fail to comply with the deposit regulations you will also be prevented from serving a s21 Notice.
There is also the risk of reputational loss, social media enables tenants to name and shame those breaching the rules.
If you have received a tenant claim regarding a prohibited fee, or you have failed to comply with the deposit regulations contact Mercian Law either on our website web chat function, or by calling 01827 215679 to discuss how we can be of assistance and the fees involved.
Please note that this article does not constitute legal advice. Mercian Law Limited have tried to make this article as accurate and complete as possible at the date it was written. The laws of England and Wales change frequently, and you are advised to take legal advice before embarking on any legal action.