Regulation for Agents
Tenant Fees Act
The Tenant Fee ban comes in to effect on 1 June 2019.
The government has produced the following guidance for tenants, landlords and agents in relation to the ban:
Woodstock Property Law who operate safeagent’s legal helpline have created a guide to the Act.
Right to Rent
The Right to Rent scheme was rolled out in England on 1 February 2016. Landlords and agents, and anybody who sublets or takes in lodgers, could face a financial penalty of up to £3,000 per tenant if they are found to be letting property to someone who has no right to stay in the UK.
The Home Office has issued a user’s guide to carrying out Right to Rent checks. The guide contains an FAQs section to assist you with your queries.
There is also an online checking aid available on GOV.uk which agents can use to guide them through the process and also to request a check on anyone who has an outstanding case with the Home Office.
Who does the Right to Rent scheme apply to?
The scheme applies to private landlords with property in England, including people who are subletting their property or taking in lodgers. Alternatively an agent can be appointed by a landlord to make Right to Rent checks on their behalf.
Checks must be carried out on all adult occupants.
What are the penalties for renting your property to someone who isn’t allowed to stay in the UK?
You could face a civil penalty of up to £3,000 per tenant for renting your property to someone who isn’t allowed to stay in the UK.
Do I need to make a report to the Home Office if a tenant no longer has a right to be in the UK?
Agents should make a report to the Home Office if follow-up checks reveal that an occupier no longer has the right to rent in the UK. Landlords are encouraged to report suspected immigration abuse by calling 0800 555 111 or via Gov.uk.
Who can I ring if I have a query with Right to Rent?
The Landlords Helpline can also be used by agents ring T:03300 069 9799. Full details of the Right to Rent scheme can be found on Gov.uk.
"How to" guides
The Government has produced a number of useful guides for tenants and landlords ensuring that all parties understand their responsibilities in relation to a tenancy.
The How to Let guide for landlords provides information about a landlord’s rights and responsibilities when letting out a property.
The How to Rent a Safe Home guide provides information about how to identify potential hazards and unsafe condition and to understand a private landlord’s legal obligations when letting a residential property.
The How to Rent Guide serves as a helpful checklist for anyone searching for a property in England. The Landlord or agent must supply a copy of the guide to tenants when starting or renewing your tenancy.
Regulation - Wales
Rent Smart Wales
In order to improve letting and management standards, the Welsh Government introduced ‘Rent Smart Wales’, a registration and licensing scheme under the Housing (Wales) Act 2014. Full details of the scheme can be found on Rent Smart.
What does it mean for landlords and agents?
All private landlords who have a rental property in Wales must register under the scheme and all landlords and letting agents who carry out defined letting or property management activities must be licensed.
Where can I get approved training to meet the requirements of Rent Smart Wales?
Safeagent’s Foundation Lettings Course (Wales) is certified by Rent Smart Wales as an Approved Agent Training Course under the Housing Act (Wales) Act 2014. safeagent’s online course allows you to fit your training around your lifestyle without having to attend a face to face course and take time out from your workplace. Full details of the course can be found on our eLearning platform.
What are the requirements for the landlords and agents to be compliant with legislation?
Full details of the compliance requirements including mandatory training can be found on Rent Smart.
Regulation - Scotland
Scottish Letting Agent Register
From 31 January 2018 it became a mandatory requirement for letting agents in Scotland to comply with a new Code of Practice and the new Register which agents must sign up to by 30 September 2018 opened for applications.
What do I need to do to be able to register?
Full details can be found on the Scottish Government website.
What qualification do I or my staff need?
Anyone who has to be qualified as part of the registration process will need to have a relevant qualification covering essential aspects of letting agency work at Scottish Credit and Qualifications (SCQF) Level 6 or above.
NALS Foundation Lettings Course (Scotland) is a fully online qualification recognised by the Scottish Government. Details of all of the training providers recognised by the Scottish Government can be found myGov.
Which staff need to be trained?
If you’re applying on behalf of a company, partnership or other body, the people who need the qualification, plus any necessary training are:
- the person who holds the most senior position in the organisation’s management structure (unless they aren’t involved in the day to day running of the letting agency work)
- every person directly concerned with managing and supervising the day to day running of the organisation’s letting agency work
If you have an office where letting agency work is done and nobody in that office is listed above, there must be at least one person in the office who meets the training requirement.
What are the other requirements for registration?
Fit and Proper Person Test
Everyone applying to be on the register will have to meet the Fit and Proper Person requirements set out by the Scottish Government.
Client Money Protection
To achieve registration firms must be covered by a Client Money Protection Scheme. All safeagent firms already meet this requirement and the safeagent CMP scheme is recognised by the Scottish Government. Firms must hold current Professional Indemnity insurance and have a dedicated client account.
What happens if an agent is not on the register?
It is a criminal offence to carry out letting agency work if you aren’t on the register. If you’re convicted you could face a fine of up to £50,000, up to 6 months imprisonment or both.
To help local authorities tackle rogue letting agents, NALS has published the latest version of its Effective Enforcement Toolkit.
Originally published in 2016, the Toolkit was created as a unique way to assist local authority enforcement officers in tackling lettings and management firms who fail to comply with the law, particularly around the requirement to display fees and membership of redress and CMP schemes. It provides councils with a guide to the legalities and requirements of regulating agents, in a step-by-step format designed to help protect tenants and landlords.
Aware of the challenges local authorities face in carrying out their work in the PRS, the toolkit has been fully updated and now references over 50 tribunal decisions from across England. By providing easy access to this wealth of information, it will help enforcement officers correctly interpret the legislation while providing a useful benchmark for assessing the appropriate level of penalties.
The Toolkit will be updated again in 2019 following the introduction of mandatory client money protection.
Only by raising standards across the sector can we start to tackle the small minority whose rogue activities tarnish our reputation. This toolkit is designed to be a ‘one stop shop’ for Local Authorities working with the private rented sector. They are, after all, in the enforcement front line. Working together, we help to make living in the private rented sector a positive experience.
Isobel Thomson, Chief Executive of safeagent