As from today, 24th November 2016, any landlord or letting agency that isn’t licensed is breaking the law – yes acting illegally. Their failure to be licenced mean they may incur a fixed penalty notice (£150 – £250), have rent stopping orders imposed on them, rent repayment orders, unable to serve a valid section 21 notice, or/and criminal prosecutions and fines.
An estimated 50% of private rented properties have not registered in accordance with the rules and timescales set out by the licensing authority Rent Smart Wales. So, if you are a landlord or letting agent operating illegally, it’s only a matter of time before you are found.
If you are a tenant, you can check with Rent Smart Wales to see if your landlord / letting agent is registered by checking here: https://www.rentsmart.gov.wales/en/check-register/
Why we think the whole issue of tenant fees and charges need major reform.
We were pleased to see the announcement in England of the intention to follow Scotland in abolishing letting agency fees and urge the Welsh government to consider their commitment to do the same, as soon as practicable.
Wales also need to ensure that letting agency fees to tenants are also addressed, but we also need to ensure landlord fees and charges are addressed too. One of the often-unreported issues is the ‘In tenancy’ fees charged by landlords contained in written tenancy agreements with or without the aid and support of letting agencies. So, we must not forget that we need to bring these into line with letting agency fees also.
In case you were wondering why charges should be abolished. We have included an example of why we should do so. The following comprises a list of charges on the tenant that could potentially run into thousands for what could be deemed minor breaches of the tenancy agreement that ordinarily will be dealt with by a friendly landlord by saying ‘get that sorted’ – ok Governor, and that’s that!
But what tends to happen more frequently by unscrupulous landlords and letting agencies, is that we get people inspecting properties with a clip board that potentially prints money for them. The way tenancy agreements are constructed means the landlord could basically charge what they like for admin, works and materials. In this example, it does say that these are minimum charges only, and are (of course) subject to labour and admin costs.
You may also think that these are collection of charges gathered up from different letting agencies and landlords. Wrong! these charges we found in one single tenancy agreement. Yes one!
In agreements such as these, the ‘handyman’ is often the landlord, (who gets a nice little earner from spotting tiny imperfections and charging to put them right, or a good friend who is self-employed builder who also happens to help out with the odd inspection. There’s also the admin fees of course to notify you by letter.
EXAMPLE OF A SCHEDULE OF FEES AND CHARGES
These were in size 8 font and formed part of a 14 page tenancy agreement
- Schedule of additional tenant charges that could arise during the Tenancy period: (minimum guide only & subject to material & extra labour & admin costs as charges varies according to the size, quality of furniture and the existing decoration of the property):
- Rent arrears per letter £25,
- Preparation of Section 8 Notice £25,
- Returned Direct Debit/Standing Order/ Cheque payment, Late rental or invoice payment £25,
- House visit for purpose of collecting rent arrears £50,
- Cancellation/lost cheque £25,
- Council tax reminder letter £25,
- Change of utilities £25,
- Reference charges (per person) £25,
- Call out charge (lock out, blocked sink, drain, toilet, failed access etc.) £25,
- Call out charge for unnecessary maintenance £50,
- Replacement of tenant 25% of monthly rent,
- Return of overpaid rent at end of tenancy £25,
- Renewal of contract -25% of monthly rental with £50 as minimum (unless signed 60 days prior to contract end),
- Doors & Fittings (per item) £25 + materials: Replace door handle, Replace door hinges, Replace door closer.
- Replace exterior door lock £100,
- Replace interior door lock £50,
- General (per item) £80
- Redecorate wall, ceiling, £30 Replace stained/damaged carpet/vinyl flooring per sq meter, £60 Replace laminate floor per sq meter, £60 Replace/replenish fire extinguishers if misused, £25
- Replace fire blanket, £100,
- Re-glaze per sq meter £75,
- Replace curtains/blinds each room £100
- Replace curtain track £50,
- Replace worktops per 3 meter length £100,
- Replace cupboard door, Rehang & adjust cupboard door £75,
- Replace damaged taps, Replace cooker/oven wire shelves, Replace cooker glass, Replace fridge/freezer shelf/drawer, Fridge internal lining damage, Replace cooker/oven grill pan £50,
- Replace damaged hobs if separate, £150,
- Replace damaged microwave £150
- Replace washing /dryer machine £400,
- Replace fridge/freezer £300
- Replace vacuum cleaner £150,
- Replace dining chairs each £35,
- Replace dining table £150,
- Replace armchairs each £75,
- Replace 3 seat sofa £400,
- Replace coffee table £35,
- Replace bed base £100,
- Replace mattress single £100:
- Replace mattress double £150,
- Replace desk £100,
- Replace desk chair £50 ,
- Replace wardrobe £ 150,
- Replace chest drawers £100,
- Replace bedside cabinet £50,
- Bathroom: Replace shower head £50,
- Replace shower curtain £50,
- Replace shower screen £150,
- Unblock washbasin/bath £50,
- Replace taps £60,
- Replace mirror £50,
- Re-grout resealing bath £75,
- 4 bedroom house cleaning £200,
- Average cost cleaning carpet per room £50,
- Replacing of carpet £200,
- Rubbish removal per bag £10,
- Returning furniture to original location £50,
- Removal of items not recorded on inventory £25 per item
- (a) £25 charged per communication to the tenant as a result of a direct breech of any of the covenants on the part of tenant herein contained, each time a cheque or payment fails to clear or each written reminder of overdue rent or arrears not received with contractual date.
- (b)£25 charged when Landlord’s agent is required to refund any overpaid rent as a direct result of the non-cancellation of standing order payments by the tenant after the tenancy period has ended. The agent or landlord will not be held liable for any bank or other charges incurred by the tenant in overpayment of rent during or after the tenancy.
- (c) If tenant renews & enters into a new tenancy agreement 60 days prior to contract end the ½ monthly rental (minimum £200) fee will be waived.
Deposit re-registration is charged at £50.
Contract renewals, or new or amendments /changes in Guarantor forms will be charged at £50.
(d) 1 month rent fee is payable should the tenant vacate the property before the end of the fixed term. Where replacement tenants are used to fulfil their tenancy term, 50% monthly rent fee is charged.
Please note that tenants are fully responsible for their tenancy obligations until new tenants sign a tenancy agreement relieving their duties.
(e)A fee of £200 as well as the cost of replacement keys/fobs will be issued to the tenant for the non-return of any keys/fobs at the end of the tenancy or for the cutting of lost keys/fobs during the course of the tenancy.
A Charge of £25 will be made to the tenant each time we have to write to the tenants regarding any unreturned keys/fobs on temporary loan to the tenant during the tenancy.
(f)A fixed £50 is payable for checkout and inventory appointments.
Additional £50 will be charged for out of hours (9am – 5pm, Monday to Friday) and additional £75 for Bank holidays & weekends.
(g)Failure to attend or vacate, or changes to the prearranged agreed check out or inspection times will result in a £50 charge.
- h) )If any damage due to smoking is caused to the fixtures and fittings at the property, it will have to be made good by the Tenant by having all carpets, curtains and soft furnishings professionally steam cleaned.
- i) On issue of an Inventory of the Statement of Condition of The Property at the beginning of the Tenancy, Tenants should check, sign and return the document. If the Inventory is not returned within 5 days of issue the Inventory will be assumed to portray an accurate description of the Contents and Condition of The Property. If no Inventory is provided by Landlord, The Tenant will carry out his or her own Inventory and present it to Landlord for agreement and signing.
- j) Notice shall be considered sufficiently served by the Landlord or Tenant should it be sent by 1st or 2nd registered or recorded delivery post (if the letter is not returned undelivered) with an allowance of a two working day period for delivery or through confirmed electronic email where read receipts is saved.
- k) Bicycles & scooters are not permitted anywhere inside of the properties or any communal passageways, unless agreed in advance and a charge is payable of £50. If found obstructing any communal doors, passageways or fire exits, it will be removed & left outside the property at the tenant’s risk & costs.
- l) The tenant agrees that in relation to the Utility Accounts for the property to include, Gas, Electricity, Water and Council Tax to waive their rights to data protection and allows the landlord or his agent can contact the utility companies on their behalf and where necessary give the companies contact details to allow initial accounts to be created or bills to be finalised on the behalf of the Tenants. In the circumstance that the Tenant is receiving Housing Benefit payments the Tenant gives the Landlord and his agent authorisation to discuss their account with local Council.
m) The Tenant must ensure that should they or the landlord provide a television in the property the Tenant is responsible for any Television License charges unless otherwise stated in the tenancy agreement.
n) The property must be kept in a clean and organised state at all times. You agree that We reserve the right to ask for contribution towards cleaning. Should the property attract rats, mice, vermin, wasp or bees: the tenants will be held responsible for any Pest Control services required; payable at actual or minimum £50 per call out unless it can be shown and shown it is caused by structural pre-existing issues or failure by Landlord
o) If the Tenant reports any disrepair, damage or defect in the Property and it is deemed to be caused either directly or indirectly by the Tenant, or through the actions of the Tenant; the Tenant will be held fully liable for payment to the contractor. If a contractor attends and finds the call out to be false or unnecessary, the Tenant will assume full responsibility of payment of a reasonable call out fee payable directly to the contractor.
p) All bond monies returned in respect of this Tenancy Agreement will be the responsibility of the Lead Tenant to distribute
q) If you believe your fire alarm is sounding falsely, or if the control panel shows a fault, please contact you agent or alarm installer. The alarm system will usually have to be re-set.
r) Any electrical equipment installed at the property by the tenants is done so at their own risk. Any irregularities noted by the tenants when using any of the electrical appliances provided by the landlord must be reported immediately and usage stopped.
s) From time to time we may choose to share your information with relevant third parties. By signing this Agreement you consent to this sharing of information. Should you wish to opt out at any time during the Agreement you may do so by putting your request in writing to us.
t) Please ensure that any Fire Fighting Equipment provided is not tampered with or moved from its station unless for its intended use.
u) Unless otherwise expressly stated in this Agreement any garages, sheds, unconverted attics, basements and any other uninhabitable areas that fall within the property boundaries are not to be used by the Tenants and will not form part of this Agreement.
v) Tenants must ensure that all fire escape routes in the property are kept clear and unobstructed by any furniture, items, rubbish or articles. Unwanted furniture, appliances or other items shall not be permitted to accumulate in these areas and will be removed without notice at tenant’s costs.
w)Tenants are to ensure that all common areas of the property including hallways, stairways, landings, communal kitchens, communal bathrooms or other communal areas including communal external court yards, gardens or porches shall be kept in a clean and tidy condition.
x) Prior to the end of your tenancy you will be required to make a reservation for a ‘Check out’ appointment on your vacating day in order that an accompanied check out inventory can be completed with the Lead (or nominated Lead) tenant. At this time all keys will need to be surrendered (including any additional copies that may have been cut) to the Landlord or Agent present at the appointment.
y) Special Notes and additional Condition – NB All breach is £50 plus cost of materials and labour per breach
This is a strictly non-smoking property. The tenant agrees not to smoke inside or on the grounds or perimeter of the property. Tenant and their visitors may smoke outside the property away from open doors or windows and to keep the exterior of the property clear of ashtrays and discarded cigarettes etc. If the tenant breaches this clause then they are responsible for the reasonable costs of rectification of any appropriate cleaning, fumigation & contract breach of £50
You agree the deposit or bond is paid to cover potential damages, payable, fines, liabilities and any associated costs to the property and tenancy. When you move the property should be left in a Clean, tidy and without any damaged conditions.
Any damages deemed to have been caused by tenants is payable immediately for repairs to be carried out.
Where not included in the rental, a scanned copy of tenants named Council tax, TV license, electric & gas bill, to be sent within 14 days of contract commencement.
Tenants are required to insure their own and property contents to include “accidental damage”. Copies to be sent within 14 days of contract start by email.
Consuming or storage of foods is not permitted in bedrooms, except kitchen or allocated dining room or areas, where applicable.
Internal house shoes to be worn to prevent internal damage to property flooring & carpets.
Not to use any electrical heaters, fan heaters or cooling machines or generators at any time.
To actively switch off all lighting and electrical sockets when not in use and not leave in standby
Visitors are not permitted on the premises between 2300 and 0800 hours daily unless prior written permission from the Landlord/Agent with a maximum overnight stay of 5 days per contract period by the same person(s).
Fire & smoke doors must be kept closed at all times, if found otherwise £50 deterrent fine is payable within 7 days of notification. Invoice level or £50 charge per visit PER event will be payable for
(a) loss/theft of keys to open door locks
(b) to unblock a sink, bath or toilet
(c) improper use of fire hydrant, radiators, fire doors including forced opening of doors
(d) Internal waste and rubbish mismanagement & failure to take bins & rubbish on Council listed days in manner specified
(e) garden, property boundary maintenance and cleanness and management issues that needs direct action or intervention from ourselves
(f) any missed appointment
(g) Non emergency visits, admin requests including parking, references, contract & inventory related emails, texts, phone and phone related
electronic communications (but not e-mail) that are not emergency or out of hours is liable at £25 per item and £2.50 per email or electronic text / messaging/per phone call.
Where advised by Landlord in writing, any damages or contract breach caused during the tenancy by the tenant and is the tenant’s responsibility, will be fixed within 7 days of being advised or agree to repairs at own costs. Common cause of damage during occupation includes:
- Damage to walls by nails or blue tack, bicycles, other objects
- Damage and stains, cuts or marks, on carpets and flooring or walls
- The window in the bathroom must be kept open when taking a shower or bath. Failure can lead to condensation and mould growth and decorations issue
- No clothes on heating systems. Such abuse of decorations cannot be regarded, as “fair wear and tear”. Such damage will require repair and redecoration and increase in utility costs, leads to condensation, mould & dampness all of which will make the tenant liable for associated repairs and costs.
- Advisable for external shoes not to be used within the property 6. All curtains should be replaced back on the windows.
- All keys to be returned at inventory checkout or tenant remains liable for weekly rent over the agreed leaving date.
The extent of any damage(s) will be decided by the agent or his appointed representative, and can be disputed at tenant’s own costs for an independent registered professional assessor(s).
If the property is not to a presentable and marketable standards within 60 days prior to contract end (or if the is contract terminated earlier) when advised of viewings you agree it will be professionally cleaned and the costs payable by yourself.
If tenants decorate the property it will be professionally decorated back to its original manner by the Landlord at tenant’s cost.
By signing below you agree that you have taken appropriate advice, guidance, and are of good mental capacity to have read, understood and accept fully all the terms, conditions, schedules, associated fees & charges. You agree to waive any current & future legal challenges by signing this document.