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One month for agents to meet transparency rules

It’s now just one month until all letting agents have to do what most have done for some time - publicise a detailed breakdown of fees, state whether they are a member of a client money protection scheme and specify which redress scheme they are in.

The display of this information is required to be prominent in offices and on websites under the regulations within the Consumer Rights Act, coming into effect on May 27. 

Precise details of the legislation are now available on www.gov.uk which carries the full (and rather hefty) 62-page document entitled Improving The Private Rented Sector And Tackling Bad Practice: A Guide For Local Authorities.

The document is packed with information for agents but a key section, towards the end, makes it clear that the new legislation is more wide-ranging than many casual observers may believe:

Letting agents are defined in the Consumer Rights Bill as a person who engages in letting agency work. The Bill makes it clear that a letting agent doesn’t have to exclusively engage in letting agents work but so long as they undertake it they are a letting agent regardless of what else they do.

The document also makes an attempt to define ‘lettings agency work’:

‘Lettings agency work’ is defined in the Consumer Rights Bill as things done by an agent in response to instructions from:

- a private rented sector landlord who wants to find a tenant: or

- a tenant who wants to find a property in the private rented sector.

It applies where the tenancy is an assured tenancy under the Housing Act 1988.

In the Bill, lettings agency work does not include the following things when done by a person who only does these things:

- publishing advertisements or providing information;

- providing a way for landlords or tenants to make direct contact with each other in response to an advertisement or information provided; and

- providing a way for landlords or tenants to continue to communicate directly with each other.

It also does not include things done by a local authority, for example, where the authority helps people to find tenancies in the private rented sector.

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