ARLA Propertymark has told its members that they should not charge fees to tenants for remedying problems such as blocked toilets that have been created by the tenants.
‘Contractual damages’ as they are known are not included in the tenant fees ban guidance issued for England by the government.
These fees are charged by letting agents when a landlord has instructed them to fix a problem caused by a tenant and are then are then passed on to the tenant by the landlord.
ARLA has consulted with leading housing lawyer Erol Topal to seek counsel on the matter.
In a 19-page document Topal examines whether commission charged by an agent via the landlord is a prohibited fee under the Tenant Fees Act.
The lawyer has told ARLA that although charging this kind of fee breaks the spirit of the law, it doesn’t break the letter as long as agents insert a clause into their tenancy contracts enabling such charges.
tenant fees ban
But agents hoping this could be a way to earn at least some revenue from tenants will be disappointed.
ARLA says that although it notes Topal’s advice, it says: “Such a clause may be subject to challenge under consumer protection legislation and, if successful, would be deemed an unfair term”.
“Whilst agents must make their own commercial decisions on how to take this issue forward, ARLA Propertymark is not recommending this course of action and as such will not be making any changes to its ASTs,” it says.
The the legal advice in full.