Agents can’t charge for arranging to fix a loo, says tenant fees ban advice

Legal counsel sought by ARLA over 'contractual charges' has highlighted how fees charged for arranging a plumber to fix a toilet, and services like it, cannot be added to bills.

tenant fees ban

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.

One Comment

  1. We have a situation where, unknow to us until later, our tenant changed a light fitting which failed to work properly.
    A pproblem with the electrical system was reported to us by the tenant.
    We sent out an electrican as a matter of urgency (chargeable for call-out) and he reported back to us that the light had been improperly installed and was dangerous.
    Our electrican, once he had made the installation safe at no cost, told the tenant that he should get his own electrician to fix the problem.
    Where do we stand about our electrician’s call-out charge?
    Surely we do not have to foot the bill for that? Or does the Landlord?
    Seemingly we have to pay our electrician even though the problem was indisputably caused by the tenant.
    There is something seriously wrong if legislation like this is on the books.

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