Breaching the new tenancy fees bill is a civil offense to be enforced by the Trading Standard. The schedule 5 of the Consumer Rights of 2015 will be amended in the bill to provide for that.
- A whooping fine of £5,000 will be slammed on any landlord who breaches the provisions of the bill by intentionally charging any of the prohibited fees. The same applies to any letting agent.
- A fine of £30,000 awaits any landlord or letting agent who is known to have defaulted in the above regard before and has breached the provisions of the bill again.
- Trading Standards does not always place this fine on defaulting landlords and letting agents. It has, according to the bill, 6 months within the time a breach comes to its notice to notify the landlord or letting agent about the breach while the offender(s) has 28 days to respond to the notification from where the Trading Standards will decide whether to impose the fine or not. When it does not impose the stipulated fine, it directs them to repay the fees to the tenant with interest.
- It gets more interesting. Section 10 of the bill stipulates that the head of a corporate body, a CEO or director, will be personally held accountable and prosecuted if the company breaches any of the provisions of the bill, if it comes to be established that the company did so with the full knowledge of the boss.
- The fines of £5,000 for defaulting landlords and letting agents and £30,000 for repeated offenders (those that breach the provision twice or more within 5 years by making tenants pay for any of the banned fees) are also applicable to those who refuse refunding a holding deposits.
- Another penalty is banning of the landlord or letting agent. Under the amended Housing Act of 2016, a local housing authority can apply to a court to ban the landlord or letting agent who has breached the provisions of the tenancy fees bills for a period of up to a year. This will stop the offending landlord from renting out their property and the letting agent from acting as one till the end of the ban period.
However, the bill, when passed, will not be able to prosecute any tenancy fees offence committed by any landlord or letting agent before its passing.