Debate In Parliament About Letting Fees

Yesterday’s Debate In Parliament About Letting Fees And Longer Tenancies.

I read with interest the debate yesterday that Nick Clegg had with Harriet Harman, about Labour’s proposals to ban letting agents’ fees and to introduce mandatory 3-year tenancies. Labour tried to introduce a ban on tenant’s fees into the Consumer Rights Bill, but the amendment-which would only be applicable in England failed comprehensively with a final vote of 281 votes to 228, a majority of 53.

Quite correctly Carlisle MP John Stevenson said that if letting agents lose their income, specifically admin fees from tenants, they will be forced to pass on these costs on to the landlords, who will ultimately be forced to increase rents.

What the government have agreed is that all letting agents will need to be transparent with their fees, banning hidden fees and clearly advertising what they are charging in terms of pricing structure on their website, quite how this will be enforced I don’t know.

The talk of longer tenancies is no surprise. Labour have been pushing for three-year tenancies, this is something we have discussed in length on the working group I have been involved with in partnership with the government. This discussion, which has involved a diverse number of organisations including  ARLA, NALS, NLA, RLA, RICS has articulated our thoughts on the principal of longer tenancies and how it can be incorporated with a ‘Model Agreement’, which Nick Clegg subsequently referred to. He claims that this will be released in the summer. The ultimate aim will be supporting tenants and families and securing longer fixed tenancies.  It must be very unsettling for families having to move and change children’s schools all the time, being served with section 21 notices, when they have been ‘model tenants is clearly a cause of major concern.

As long as landlords have the right to evict for non-payment, or their personal circumstances change, for instance they need to sell or move back into the property, within the fixed term, then it may work. Conversely this could also put off some landlords. Most landlords in our experience are happy to give longer tenancies to good tenants that look after the property and pay the rent on time. They would even be happier taking a little less rent, if they have good tenants. The benefit is that they do not have to absorb the extra costs of having to re-let and find new tenants on short terms tenancies.

Like anything in business, it’s all about relationships and these have to be worked on. If a landlord is happy with a tenant they will naturally want to extend a tenancy, particularly if they feel the trust is there.

I do agree with Housing Minister Kris Hopkins in his comments’ Short term gimmicks like trying to ban any fee to tenants means high rents by the back door’. Excessive regulation and waging a war on the private sector would destroy investment in new housing, push prices up and make it hard for people to find a property to rent.

Finally Nick Clegg summed it up concisely “the fundamental problem is that we are simply not building enough affordable homes”. We are in ‘Generation Rent’, This will continue to grow and it’s how we can adapt to this, which will present the biggest challenge

Precise Treatment Reduces Pain

Detail needs experts. Expert time is worth it when it saves you a costly mistake. Main objective: Get the property back. Best action: Very precise treatment.

Serving a notice is actually the most important part of the possession process.

It isn’t complicated but one tiny error can cause dreadful problems.

That’s why we say, don’t DIY and don’t use internet amateurs. It’s not worth it.

1. Compliance Errors
If the tenant doesn’t leave at Step1, the notice had better be valid. Because then it has to go to court. Any little error can get a case thrown out. And you have to start all over again.

2. Attempting Short-Cuts.
In an effort to be quick, some internet services aimed at landlords are using short-cuts around the process. But if the tenant doesn’t leave (50%) these practices can backfire at court and the case thrown out.

3. Trying to Save Pennies.
Internet services have mushroomed and landlords can expect to get what they pay for. To get the process done PROPERLY it takes a certain amount of time for an expert to look over a file and be accurate. Our fees cover that expert time.

Chasing courts for dates, arranging advocates and preparing court papers is time consuming. Especially if you’ve never done it before.

Some landlord and agents have served notices themselves. They believed they were saving a few pounds but it often ended up costing them more.

If you lose a claim, the court can order you to pay the tenant’s defence cost, which can run to hundreds or thousands of pounds.

Our in-house Solicitors are there to get your property back as fast as they can. And we protect landlords and agents from themselves.

As experts, we know that in the rush to get things done, errors can happen. And those errors can can come back later to mess up your case – and the whole process has to start again.

You can speed things up – give us accurate information quickly. Help us to help you.

There are services on the web who will prepare papers BUT they get you to pay the court-fee separately and get you to sign the court papers – so in fact they don’t represent you!

If your notice (at Step1) wasn’t drafted or served correctly you risk wasting your court fees and losing a whole lot of time because of a small error.

We won’t let your case anywhere near a court until we have checked every little detail. To make sure you don’t waste time or money, at Step-2 we first only charge part of the fee.

If your notice is fine, then you just pay the balance of the fee and we issue the claim. If there is a problem with your notice or paperwork, we will advise you what to do next.

Courts take the view that possession proceedings can make someone homeless. So they are very careful. If there’s any error in the notice, they throw the case out. It’s the process. Get it right or lose.

If the notice is invalid, you have to start all over again. The weeks or months you’ve waited are wasted. If there were rent arrears, there are now more.

If there weren’t rent arrears, they might now start. More fees. More lost rent. And still no possession. Tenants can be alerted to making a counter-claim.

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