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On November 1, the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) published the draft for what is to be known as the Tenants' Fees Bill.
As we move closer to a blanket fees ban which will have an impact on the vast majority of agents, here at Gnomen we have taken a look at the draft bill and answered five key questions agents could be asking.
1. What does the draft bill set out?
The draft bill confirms the government's intention to ban any upfront fees charged to tenants. It also confirms that security deposits will be capped at no more than six weeks' rent and holding deposits at no more than one week's rent.
2. Have any new measures been announced?
Nothing major has been added at this stage. However, the draft bill details that agents who break the law will be fined up to £5,000 as a civil offence and could be charged with a criminal offence and hit with a fine of up to £30,000 for any further breaches within a two-year period. On top of this, it was confirmed that local trading standards teams will be enforcing the ban and there will also be a lead enforcement authority appointed from within the lettings industry to monitor the ban.
3. What are the next stages of the process?
Bills are frequently published in draft form before being introduced formally in parliament. This allows them to be amended and scrutinised before becoming a bill proper. Draft bills are also commonly examined by a select committee or joint committee. Once these stages are complete, the bill proper will go before the House of Commons and the House of Lords, before being granted Royal Assent when it is passed as law.
4. When might the ban be introduced?
For now, the answer to this question is still that nobody knows for sure. However, looking at the way government legislation works, it's highly unlikely a ban will be introduced before spring 2018 at the earliest. There are many more stages to go through, as outlined above. What's more, housing minister Alok Sharma has been quoted as saying that before any timetable for the implementation of the legislation is released, this draft bill will need to be scrutinised by MPs.
5. Where can letting agents read about the proposals in detail?
You can read the draft bill in full on the government website here.
As we've said before, it's important for agents to prepare for the ban by making sure they are in the best position possible to minimise the impact of lost income. This includes having a software system that works for you as well as a website which helps to make you stand out from the competition.
Here at Gnomen, we aim to provide both of these things to our clients. You can find out more about our software here and see some of our beautiful website designs here.
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