The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has today published new guidance for the lettings industry to improve their understanding and compliance with consumer protection law.
The follows a report last year by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) which raised concerns about a number of unsatisfactory practices affecting tenants, including unfair and surprise fees and charges, poor service and delayed and substandard repairs.
The OFT concluded that greater compliance with existing legislation would improve consumer protection and practices in the lettings market.
The CMA worked closely with Trading Standards Services to agree how the law should be applied to the most problematic practices and to identify enforcement priorities, so that together they can tackle non-compliance and improve standards.
The guidance includes the following advice:
- Ensure that tenants and the lettings agent’s landlord clients know what charges and fees they will have to pay and what these are for.
- Avoid using misleading advertising or statements, and ensuring that the tenant or landlord is given all the information they need, at the appropriate time.
- Provide clear information which the tenant needs to know before they move in (such as guarantor and deposit requirements, and the terms and conditions of the tenancy agreement).
- Deal fairly and professionally with tenants and landlords, and using fair contractual terms.
- Ensure that services and repairs are carried out in a timely manner and with reasonable care and skill.
- Give clear and full information to tenants about how to end a tenancy agreement.
The above is to complement existing and emerging industry schemes and codes of conduct, and is relevant to lettings professionals in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, highlighting national variations in legislation.
Nisha Arora, CMA Senior Director, Consumer, said: ‘Renting a property is a big financial commitment, and it is important that tenants can be confident that their landlord or letting agent will treat them fairly. This guidance will help lettings professionals understand how to comply with the law and should ultimately improve overall standards in the market.’