New Consumer Protection Rules affect Landlords

The Consumer Protection (Amendment) Regulations 2014 come into force from today – 1 October 2014.

They will apply to private rental agreements between landlords or agents and tenants – assured (AT) and assured shorthold tenancies (AST), including most Private Rented Sector (PRS) agreements.

Misleading actions or aggressive practices may entitle the tenant to terminate a letting agreement and require the return of any rent and deposit paid up front, or to claim a discount or damages.

The Competition and Markets Authority have produced a guide: Guidance for Lettings Professionals on consumer protection law – Helping you comply with your obligations:

This guidance is to help lettings professionals in particular, but also private landlords will have to comply with these consumer protection laws, and laws about dealing with other businesses, in the context of letting privately owned residential property.

The new legislation is intended to complement existing industry schemes such as those operated by industry bodies and codes of conduct, which help landlords and lettings professionals keep up-to-date with changes to the law, achieve compliance, and provide good quality services to tenants and landlords.

A Private Rented Sector Code of Practice has recently been released by RICS and the other leading bodies in the Rental Property Industry:

Until now, consumers have had no direct right of action on matters affecting them relating to The Competition Markets Authority (formerly OFT), or Trading Standards.

With the passing of these new Consumer Protection (Amendment) Regulations 2014, consumers will be able to bring a claim in the civil courts for redress where they can show 'misleading actions or aggressive practices' by businesses which are found to have caused them harm.

The new legislation is part of a general reform which also includes giving consumers the right to bring claims to enforce their rights under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 (CPRs).

From 13 June 2014 the Consumer Contracts Regulations, which implement the Consumer Rights Directive in UK law, came into effect. These regulations apply to items bought online, at a distance, or away from a trader’s premises (for example, at home or at work).

They replace the Distance Selling Regulations and Doorstep Selling Regulations. They also make it an obligation for traders to give consumers certain information.

Essentially, the CPRs will criminalise misleading and aggressive commercial practices by businesses towards consumers.

Previously, these consumer rights could only be enforced by the Competition Markets Authority (CMA) or Trading Standards (TS). Up until now consumers had no direct right of action.

In order for a consumer?s claim to succeed they will have to show that the misleading action or aggressive practice in question was a significant factor in his or her decision to enter into a contract or make the payment.

Remedies will include:

- A right to end the contract and receive a refund ' within 90 days of the contract date.
- A right to a discount following formulae laid down in the legislation.
- A right to damages where it can be shown (a) these was consequential financial loss; and/or (b) alarm, distress or physical inconvenience.

This legislation will affect letting agents and private landlords in their dealings with consumers. It does not apply to business to business dealings.

Reports are available here:

Guidance for Lettings Professionals
Private Rented Sector Code of Practice

If you have any questions about any of the issues here, post your question to the LandlordZONE® Forums ' these are the busiest Rental Property Forums in the UK ' you will have an answer in no time at all.

©LandlordZONE All Rights Reserved – never rely totally on these general guidelines which apply primarily to England and Wales. They are not definitive statements of the law. Before taking action or not, always do your own research and/or seek professional advice with the full facts of your case and all documents to hand.

... LandlordZONE.

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Article courtesy of LandlordZONE
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