Important update: new official code on lettings is published

A new code has been published for the private rented sector.
Endorsed and commissioned by the Government, it has been put together by the RICS with a number of other bodies, including ARLA, the deposit protection schemes and the ombudsmen services
While parts of it relate to mandatory legislation, most of the code is voluntary – setting out a model for best practice – and applies to both landlords and agents.
ARLA managing director David Cox said: “A mandatory Code of Practice to improve the private rented sector is something we feel very strongly about.
“The new Code is a step in the right direction which ARLA fully supports, and we would also like to see a fully regulated industry to help build a better, strong private rented sector.”
A new model tenancy agreement has also been launched by the Government, allowing for a three-year tenure.
Some key points of the code are:
* It says landlords should choose agents who are members of an accredited body; belong to an independent redress scheme; have client money protection; and have insurances such as professional indemnity.
* On agents’ fees, it says that these must be published on agents’ websites and “displayed prominently in all offices where customers enter”.
* All fees should be stated inclusive of tax – in other words, they should not be stated as, for example, “£100 plus VAT”.
* Agents who are in the process of agreeing a letting with a tenant should provide the tenant with a copy of a document produced by the Government earlier this year:https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/how-to-rent
* Agents should keep client money separate, in a dedicated client account which should be in credit at all times and kept in an FCA-authorised bank or building society. Any interest earned on client money should be credited to the client or tenant.
* On repairs and maintenance, agents should declare any commission received from the contractor at the time that estimates for work are provided to the landlord.
* Carbon monoxide detectors should be provided in all properties with a gas or solid fuel appliance.
* Electrical certificates should be provided to the tenant. Full wiring tests should be carried out every ten years (five years in HMOs). There should also be regular portable appliance tests (PATs).
* On access – if the tenant refuses this, neither landlord nor agent can enter without a court order.
The 32-page code can be found here:
http://www.rics.org/uk/knowledge/news-insight/comment/promoting-good-practise-in-the-private-rented-sector/
The link to the new model tenancy agreement also launched is here:
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/model-agreement-for-a-shorthold-assured-tenancy
 
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