It was announced in the 2016 Autumn Statement that letting agent fees charged to tenants would be banned following a consultation period between April and June 2017 in order to give renters clarity and control over what they pay when applying to rent a new property. As expected, there was backlash from the industry stating claims that the changes would cost industry jobs and the expenses would be passed onto landlords, ultimately resulting in higher rents.
Part of the consultation was to include a series of workshops where agents could discuss the proposed changes, however due to the snap general election in 2017, these workshops were cancelled with comments welcomed in the designated forums until the end of the consultation period.
ARLA Propertymark have been leading the way with their campaigning against the changes, including releasing research from their conference, demonstrating the possible effects of the implementation of the ban, and requesting an extension of the consultation period following the workshop cancellation. In addition to this, the National Approved Lettings Scheme (NALS) requested that the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) review the impact of the proposed ban coming into effect. Following this request, CMA stated that there wouldn’t be enough time to conduct such a review before the ban was due to come into effect.
Since the consultation period, no firm date has been announced as to when we can expect to see the changes come into effect, with it becoming clear early on that it would not be before the end of 2017, and late 2018 was looking most likely. More recently, the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government (MHCLG) has stated that we shouldn’t expect the changes before Spring of 2019. We’ll let you know as and when there are developments on this.
Although this bides a little time for those who have voiced concerns about the effects of the forthcoming ban, it is clear that the letting fee ban is coming and that businesses in the lettings industry should prepare themselves.
Rentshield Direct are looking forward to working with our customers throughout this time, and supporting letting agents when it comes to gaining income through other channels. We have opportunities for our agents to earn commission when introducing our market-leading insurance products that may benefit their tenants and landlords, and our new referencing platform, Connect is future-proof, and ready to adapt to market changes.
For more information on boosting your business income with Rentshield Direct, call us on 0800 035 8255 and your Account Manager will talk you through how.
View the full government consultation document here.

Letting agent fee ban – what we know so far

From 25th May 2018 the General Data Protection Regulation (‘GDPR’) is coming into effect and will have an impact on the way that organisations can handle personal information and the rights that individuals have in relation to their data.
At Rentshield Direct, we process personal data for referencing, insurance and marketing purposes, so we want to reassure you that we’re fulfilling our responsibilities when it comes to handling personal information.
GDPR outlines a set of data protection principles which organisations must remain compliant with and a set of rights held by individuals or “data subjects”. As part of the Barbon Insurance Group, we have an appointed Data Protection Officer who has worked with us to review our processes to ensure that we’re fulfilling our responsibilities when it comes to how we collect, store, process and share information.
In addition to this, each Barbon Insurance Group employee has undertaken a course and knowledge assessment to demonstrate that they understand the changes that have taken place and how this will affect them in their roles.
GDPR also enhances the standard of consent needed in order to process personal data, and specifically for data which is used for digital (i.e. email and SMS) marketing purposes. Businesses need to ensure that the consent obtained is done so in a way which is clear, unambiguous and demonstrates an affirmative action, i.e. ticking a box to opt in. We’re pleased to say that Rentshield Direct’s current processes for obtaining marketing consent as a basis to contact tenants are already in-line with the GDPR requirements.
Finally, you may be aware that we occasionally send out marketing and informative communications by post. We have a robust Supplier Selection Policy in place to ensure that any third parties who provide us with a service meet a set of requirements, with particular emphasis on data security. Rest assured that when we use a supplier for a task such as mailings, we will have assessed their processes and will be confident that they’re working in a GDPR compliant manner, and data securely provided to them will be handled as such.

I’m a letting agent – what do I need to do?

There are requirements that must be met before an organisation can begin processing data. These are as follows:
  • Data processing agreements – processors may only process personal data on behalf of a controller where a written contract is in place which imposes a number of mandatory terms on the data processor, as set out in the GDPR
  • Controller instructions – processors may only process personal data in accordance with the instructions of the controller
  • Accountability – processors must maintain records of data processing activities and make these available to the supervisory authority on request
As a letting agent, you will handle data provided to you by tenants, guarantors, landlords and other individuals. We would suggest that you familiarise yourself with the GDPR data protection principles and the set of individual rights held by your customers, and if you haven’t already, carry out an audit of your data handling processes to ensure you remain compliant. You can find more information on this from the Information Commissioner’s Office who enforce the requirements of the GDPR.
It’s also important to note that the sanctions for serious data breaches under GDPR are more severe than under the current Data Protection Act. Fines of up to £17million or 4% of global turnover (whichever is higher) can be imposed for serious breaches of GDPR, so we would advise that you implement a robust process for identifying and reporting data breaches and ensure staff are trained to understand the changes in legislation.
For more information on GDPR and your responsibilities, please visit ico.org.uk where you’ll find a comprehensive introduction to GDPR.

GDPR – let’s get prepared

Every month, we like to keep you informed with up-to-date patterns and figures from the rental market. That’s why we produce the Rentshield Rental Index, filled with rental information for your region and throughout the UK.

Key headlines from the March Rental Index

  • Rents in the UK rose by 0.9% in March compared to the same month a year ago; the average monthly rent now stands at £912 a month
  • Rents in London increased by 1.5% in March this year compared to March 2017; the average monthly rent in the capital now stands at £1,569
  • When London is excluded, the average UK rental value was £759 in March 2018, this is up 1.1% on last year
  • Rentshield’s March Rental Index reveals that rents rose in 10 of the 12 UK regions covered in the research

Click here to Download the full March Rental Index


The March Rentshield Rental Index