Following action and pressure from Reading Labour councillors led by Richard Davies, lead member for housing lettings agents and property managers in Reading are being warned to make sure they are displaying the fees they charge or risk a £5,000 penalty.
Reading Borough Council believes around 100 letting agents operate in the borough and officers are stepping up their investigative work to make sure they are complying with the law.
The Consumer Rights Act 2015 says fees must be displayed in letting agents’ premises and also on their websites.
The list of fees must include:
• an adequate description of each fee and its purpose.
• whether the fee is payable for the accommodation or by each tenant.
• the total amount of the fee inclusive of all taxes.
• the method of calculating the fee, if the fee cannot be determined in advance.
Council officers will also be checking that all lettings agents and property managers are displaying:
• a statement regarding whether the business is a member of a client money protection scheme.
• a statement they are a member of a redress scheme and the name of that scheme, where applicable.
Failure to comply with any of these requirements can result in a penalty of up to £5,000 which the council will be imposing.
Early visits to agents have shown that almost 90 percent are not complying fully with the law and most are either not publicising their fees in the correct manner or indeed at all. A penalty will be issued if these agents fail to act on initial advice from the council.
Councillor Richard Davies, Reading’s Lead Councillor for Housing, said:
“The private rented sector is a growing and important part of the housing market in Reading and the council is keen to work with landlords to ensure they offer good quality and safe accommodation.
“Letting agents and property managers are also integral players in this sector and it’s equally important they behave in a responsible and diligent manner.
“Letting agents’ fees are often an area of complaint, especially when they are unexpected. Officers will not hesitate to enforce the Consumer Rights Act to ensure all fees care clearly displayed.”