Not many landlords would typically associate themselves with consumer law. Most landlords would normally refer to themselves as investors, however they are providing a service (a home) to consumers (their tenants). Therefore, consumer law does apply to landlords in some form or another. This is also true for letting agents who provide a service to landlords.
The fairness of consumer rights
There are specific acts and regulations in place that regulate the service industry, including the Consumer Rights Act 2015 and the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008. These Acts set out how landlords and tenants interact and help to regulate the rental sector.
They also ensure that tenancy agreements are fair and clear, any advertising is not misleading and that any agreements to repair or improve any aspects of the property prior to a tenancy agreement are fulfilled.
There are consequences if either the landlord or letting agents are found to have been unfair or have committed bad practice. A tenant can end their tenancy if it’s found that the tenancy agreement was entered into following unfair practice. The tenant has to give a notice of at least 90 days to the landlord or letting agent. If the tenant provided notice within the initial 30 days of the tenancy they can also reclaim all of the money that they have paid to date.
Following the correct procedures
Where laws and agreements are concerned, it’s essential to ensure that you follow all of the correct procedures and complete all of the relevant paperwork properly. For landlords that trade through a limited company, it is important for you to include the company name, address, number and place of registration wherever necessary, such as within emails.
If you are an agent, it is also important to remember to inform landlords of their cancellation rights. This is the case if the landlord and letting agent make an agreement at a distance, and not in person (eg over the phone or through emails). For further information, read Online business regulations. If this is not done the landlord can cancel their contract at any time until you do provide them with the cancellation information. This would again lead to any paid fees being returned to the landlord.
Landlords, take note…
In order to exercise your rights in relation to your letting agent, you would have to be trading as an individual person. This is because any activity or transactions done through a company would be considered a business transaction or B2B. You would not be considered a consumer which means that the consumer rights wouldn’t apply to you.
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