New Obligations for Landlords/Agents under Consumer Protection Legislation
European Union Legislation to protect consumers, including residential tenants, has been in force for some time, but, newly published guidance from the Competitions and Markets Authority (formerly the Office of Fair Trading) highlights how this impacts when a landlord or agent is letting a rental property to a tenant or managing it. Landlords and agents must change the way in which they work. Otherwise, they could find themselves facing criminal proceedings in the Magistrates Court or other enforcement action.
Likewise, Agents, when dealing with their landlord clients, especially smaller landlords, are subject to equivalent legislation.
To help with their new respective responsibilities, the RLA has published two, Must Read, guides. These simplify the detailed CMA Guidance and set out what you must do and must not do in future.
Guide to Landlords/Agents duties to Tenants under Consumer Protection Legislation
Normally residential tenants will be consumers and they are entitled to the same protection as any other consumer.
Guides to Agent's obligations to Landlords under Consumer Protection Legislation
When dealing with landlord clients you are well advised to treat all your landlord clients (and potential clients) as consumers unless it is clear that they are not. Even then there are equivalent business to business regulations which will apply in relation to advertising for landlord clients and contracting with clients.
Guide to Landlord/Agents Marketing and Advertising Properties to Rent – Information to be given to Tenants
To help landlords and agents when marketing and letting properties, the RLA has published guidance spelling out the information which must be provided and at what stage. You need to read this guidance to be clear as to what steps need to be taken. These are radically different from much of normal letting practice.
In future landlords and agents need to be much more transparent and upfront in what they tell tenants and prospective tenants in order to comply with the Regulations.