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We are delighted to announce the acquisition of The Happy Tenant Company. 🎉

This is our third such acquisition in the last 18 months. With more than 8,000 properties on our platform to date, this latest acquisition further cements our position as one of the leading players in the online lettings space and demonstrates our plans for ambitious growth over the coming months. 

As a business, The Happy Tenant Company already shares our ambitions to make the rental market a better place for landlords. Happy Tenant Company was created in 2012 and founded by landlords who felt there needed to be massive changes to the way that properties were managed by letting agencies. 

Extortionate maintenance fees and excessive markups by letting agencies had been the main drive to create The Happy Tenant Company. The Happy Tenant Company’s mission is to have total transparency and integrity first by having fixed fees for landlords and passing benefits back to members. 

“The founders of The Happy Tenant Company have built a great business. Their brand values and ethos align with those of Howsy and we’re confident we can offer a greater selection of services for Happy Tenant customers to further enhance their experience,” says Calum Brannan, founder and CEO of Howsy. 

11th March 2021 – Update

Yesterday the government announced further support for tenants by extending the bailiff enforced eviction ban and Six-month notice periods until atleast the 31st May. Exceptions to the ban continue, with regards to anti-social behaviour and fraud.

Read the latest government press release here.

How Howsy can help protect landlords during this period

Howsy Protect is one of our comprehensive property management plans. It includes guaranteed rent protection, so your rental income is secure during the most challenging of times.

As an example, some of our landlords who are subscribed to our protect plan, have been able to support renters facing difficult situations over the past 12 months, without impacting their own financial wellbeing.

Howsy Protect also includes appliance and home emergency cover. Check out more here.

Speak to one of the Howsy team, give us a call on 0330 999 1234 or email us and we can begin the process of getting your rent protected.


14th February 2021 – Update

Over the weekend the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government has announced an extension to the ban of bailiff evictions. 

The ban was introduced as a result of the pandemic and was originally due to end in January this year however, it was extended to February and now it has been extended for a third time to 31st March. The announcement can be read here. https://www.gov.uk/government/news/housing-secretary-extends-support-for-renters-during-pandemic

At present all we know is that which is included in the press release. However, regulations are expected in the early part of this week. We will update this post as soon as more information is available. 

In the meantime for those that are concerned about this extension, it is important to note that there are exemptions to the ban and they are expected to continue. Unless there is a change the current exemptions include illegal occupation, anti-social behaviour and arrears of 6 months’ rent or more.

The courts are likely to continue prioritising possession claims where there is anti social behaviour, illegal occupation or domestic abuse. Landlords will also continue to be offered the government free mediation pilot to support them and their tenants to resolve disputes before a formal court hearing takes place. 


16th October 2020 – Update

The tenant eviction ban has been in force over the past five months to protect tenants from being evicted by their landlords throughout the coronavirus pandemic. Many individuals are facing financial hardship and struggling to keep up with rental payments due to job losses and a reduction in salary due to being furloughed. Before the ban, many tenants were at risk of eviction from their homes and the government has sought to protect tenants with this initiative.  The English government has also announced that landlords will need to give tenants six months notice of eviction until the end of March 2021. Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick said this is to help protect tenants through the winter months but will keep these measures under review. 

Yet, where there are cases of anti-social behaviour or domestic abuse, this will not apply. Once courts open, they will then priortise those cases and where landlords have not received rent for over a year. 

Our advice to tenants

  • If you are having difficulty paying your rent, speak to your landlord asap and try to come to some arrangement. At least let them know the situation so they can be clear and understand what you’re going through. 
  • If you’re receiving housing benefit or Universal credit currently and unable to be furloughed, you may be able to get a discretionary housing payment from the council. 

What this means for landlords

Although the eviction ban supports tenants, it has left numerous landlords without rental income. Some landlords have said this “blanket approach” is unacceptable. Each landlord is different and in different circumstances. Some landlords may be renters themselves and rely on renting their property out to cover the mortgage for the property they currently live in. Some landlords rely on this income for their pension and financial stability. Ben Beadle, Chief Executive of the National Residential Landlords Association said, “Private landlords cannot be expected to foot the bill for government failure.”

Landlords also need to be given some way to have their income protected if tenants can’t pay their rent. Yet currently, there is no government support available. In some cases, landlords are able to have buy to let mortgage payment breaks but this can impact on landlords looking to get buy to let mortgages further down the line.

Although the current situation we’re facing is no fault of the nation’s tenants, it is simply unfair to expect landlords as the backbone of the rental market to foot the bill for unpaid rent. Not only has the ban been extended but landlords must now face an increased eviction notice period before they can even commence court proceedings. 

With such an unprecedented backlog, there will no doubt be sizable delays that could see landlords face an even longer wait before they can reclaim their bricks and mortar investment. As a result, some could be facing in excess of a year without any rental income.

The Government is yet to provide any form of help other than the rather pitiful buy-to-let mortgage holiday which, in some cases, can impact a landlord’s financial credentials further down the line.

The government today has updated the Right to Rent guide which landlords supply to their tenants. The last right to rent guide was updated in 2019 and it’s vital that landlords provide tenants with the latest right to rent guide.

When a landlord is letting out a property, it’s important that they provide their tenants with a copy of the right to rent guide. The reason for this is that if you need to serve your tenants with a Section 21 notice to evict them, it may be invalid and tenants can contest this if a right to rent guide hadn’t been given to them. 

This can cause serious issues for landlords down the line if you need to evict tenants. Our advice is to check out the latest right to rent guide and to pass this on to any tenants before they move in to the property. 

A section 21 notice can’t be served if tenants were never given:

Due to the Coronavirus outbreak, there are a number of restrictions in place around evictions. Discover more on the government website.

We’re delighted to announce that we’ve recently won two lucrative awards. We’ve won the Best Online Business at the Growing Business Awards and the Best Letting Agency in the Property Reporter Awards in association with NRLA. 

It was a tough category in the Growing Business Awards with companies such as Mindful Chef and Snag Tights as other finalists but we’re absolutely thrilled to have been awarded this prestigious accolade. It’s truly a testament to the tireless work of the Howsy team and has shown how far we’ve come. 

We’re continuing to grow and we’re all about shaking up the lettings industry and flipping the traditional estate agency model on its head. So therefore, getting an award such as Best Letting Agency in the Property Reporter Awards has really shown how we’re making real headway within the industry. To be recognised by such a prestigious awarding body is fantastic.

The judges for the Property Reporter Awards have said “Their desire to challenge the status quo with more efficient processes stood out” “Well ahead of their time” “Flexible, transparent & responsive” 

We’re truly on a mission to make renting better for everyone, so winning this award as Best Letting Agency is really special for us. For so long the lettings industry hasn’t been working for landlords and tenants and we’re dedicated to making it work for everyone. It’s great to be recognised as the Best Letting Agency.


The lettings landscape is always changing and for landlords it can be difficult to keep up with changes in legislation. The most recent change to the rental sector is how right to rent checks are done during the pandemic. We’ve put together the below blog to help you keep up to date and compliant as a landlord during this time. 

What is right to rent?

The right to rent scheme, implemented by the Home Office, is there to ensure landlords check that the tenants living in their properties have legal status to live in the UK. The Home Office introduced Right to Rent checks as a deterrent to those looking to seek to live in England illegally. Only those who are able to live in the UK have a right to rent. 

Who needs to carry out a right to rent check?

Before a landlord or letting agent can rent out a home in England, they are required to check a potential tenant’s passport and complete the necessary immigration checks. Anyone who is also a live-in landlord renting out part of the house or a tenant subletting one of the rooms out in the property, should also carry out these checks. If a tenant fails to help and doesn’t want to comply with a check being carried out, they could face being reported. 

Who is subject to a right to rent check?

Since 1st February 2016, any tenant in England that is renting a property must prove that they have legal status to live in the country.  You must check all new tenants. It’s against the law to only check people who you think aren’t British Citizens. 

Who doesn’t need a right to rent check?

You don’t have to check tenants that are moving in to the following accommodation:

  • social housing
  • a care home, hospice or hospital
  • a hostel or refuge
  • a mobile home
  • student accommodation
  • local authority accommodation
  • Housing provided as part of their job 
  • Property with a lease that’s 7 years or longer

How is a right to rent check done?

A landlord or letting agent must carry out the following:

  • From a list of acceptable identification documents, an original document must be checked to make sure the tenant has the right to live in the UK legally. This could include a UK/EU passport and a permanent residence card or travel document showing indefinite leave to remain.
  • Anyone 18 or older that’s living in the property, also needs to be checked, even if they aren’t on the tenancy. 
  • These documents must be copied for reference purposes and be securely stored and the original documents returned once the check is complete.

Checks always had to be carried out face to face with all prospective occupiers using original documents. Yet due to Covid 19, there have been changes in the way documents are verified.

How Covid-19 has changed the right to rent check

Checks now don’t need to be done face to face. Due to the pandemic and the need for social distancing where possible, these checks can be done via a video link. To verify a tenant’s photographic I.D, the tenant can just hold this up next to their face during the video call so the landlord or letting agent can confirm who they are. A scanned copy of the document then needs to be sent electronically by the tenant to the landlord so they have this on file. 

However, as the key to the property is usually handed over in person, this means that the verification process could still technically be done face to face but socially distanced. Where once the verification must be done face to face, the checks now allow for verification virtually. 

This means landlords and letting agents can still complete the appropriate checks needed. By adapting to the current climate, landlords can still ensure they can let out properties and still be compliant.

[UPDATED 12th May]

First and foremost, I hope that you and your loved ones are well. We have all read or used the clichés “unprecented”, “uncertain” and “challenging” times, but the fact remains that none of us have seen anything like this.

As a predominantly online business, we were able to adapt quickly to the government restrictions, so it has largely been business as normal for us apart from the team are almost exclusively remote working.

With the situation changing daily, like everyone, we are monitoring the news closely to see how the government will work to ensure that the nation’s landlords and tenants are protected during this period.

On 29 March, the government published full advice for Landlords and Tenants. On 12 May, this was updated to allow property viewings, prepare properties for renting and move home, effectively restarting the lettings market. Whilst there is no specific mention of social distancing, it goes without saying that it is expected all these activities need to happen whilst maintaining a safe distance from others. There is a lot of reliance on all of us to use our common-sense.

“Our clear plan will enable people to move home safely, covering each aspect of the sales and letting process from viewings to removals…. [and] is based on the latest guidance to ensure the safety and protection of everyone involved. This critical industry can now safely move forward, and those waiting patiently to move can now do so.”
– Robert Jenrick MP, Housing Secretary

Protect yourself

Most importantly, make sure you are keeping up to date with government advice. Washing hands, working from home, social distancing – all things that you’ve seen in the news that are important changes for all of us. Whilst it does appear that restrictions are slowly being loosened, for many of us things won’t change immediately.


Protect others

From 10 May, the edict from the government changed from “Stay at home” to “Stay alert”. Whilst there is more that is open to interpretation, the key messages are:

  • Stay at home as much as possible
  • Work from home if you can
  • Limit contact with other people
  • Stay 2 metres (6ft) away from others
  • Wash your hands regularly

If you or anyone in your household are showing any symptoms of coronavirus, then you must self-isolate yourself immediately for the protection of those who are most vulnerable. This is incumbent on all of us.


Response times

Our teams are almost exclusively working from home, and whilst this is not unusual for us as a modern technology company, it is exceptional that so many of us are working remotely at the same time.  As a result, our response times could be affected. We are trying to prioritise responding to urgent requests or those from the more vulnerable, so please bear with us if we don’t get back to you quickly.

However, we are still open 24/7, and we’re on hand to help both landlords and tenants as usual.


As I mentioned, circumstances are changing, and we’re ensuring we’re keeping updated and adapting quickly.  We know that the government is never going to be able to provide details to cover all scenarios.  So in absence of specifics, we hope decision making and issue resolution will be done with a mixture of common sense, empathy and compassion for all.

Click here for advice specific to Tenants

Click here for advice specific to Landlords

Please stay safe and look after each other. 

Calum Brannan
Founder & CEO, Howsy




Advice for Tenants


Problems paying rent

If your circumstances have changed and you are struggling to pay your rent, please let us know immediately.  Don’t wait until after you get into arrears. We will explain the situation to the landlord, and they may give you more time to pay or agree to a repayment plan, although you may be asked to demonstrate that your ability to pay has changed as a result of coronavirus.  A repayment plan means you’ll make smaller payments to your landlord over a longer period of time. You’ll still have to pay everything back – but it could be easier than paying the full amount in one go.

You may also be entitled to benefits to help with housing costs if your income has reduced, even if you’re still working. Whilst there are various groups lobbying for ‘rent holidays’ during the coronavirus crisis, there are no details on any plans to introduce this yet.

It is important to note that your total rent will still be due as normal.  Landlords may be willing to make arrangements with tenants to delay or reduce rent payments but they are currently under no obligation to do so.  Don’t offer to pay more than you can realistically afford – you could make the problem worse if you can’t keep up with your payments.


Evictions

On 18th March, the government announced a ban on evictions

However, the Coronavirus Act that became law on 26 March, doesn’t actually ban evictions, it just extends the statutory notice period from two months to three for most renters.  In effect it means landlords can still serve notice and claim possession at the end of that period.  There may be additional emergency legislation, or the legislation could be extended, but that is unknown at the moment.

The change in law only applies to notices served on or after 26 March. However, for existing possession claims there are likely to be significant delays to hearings as court hearings are also suspended.


Moving out of your property

Legally, you can only end a fixed term tenancy early if either your contract (the ‘AST’) has a break clause or you negotiate an early end to the agreement with your landlord.  Please let us know if you want to negotiate an early termination – your landlord may be sympathetic to your request to leave, but bear in mind that they will need to find new tenants to cover their costs too.   Whilst the government asked mortgage lenders to make provision for mortgage holidays for landlords, they still need to pay that mortgage – it is a deferment, not a cancellation of their mortgage costs.

Conversely, if your tenancy is due to end soon but you’ll like to stay where you are, please contact us so that we can help negotiate an extension with your landlord.

On 12 May, the government announced that there are now no restrictions on moving house, other than ensuring it is done within social distancing guidelines.


Inspections and Repairs

In line with government guidance from 12 May, inspections and repairs can start again. Landlords also have legal responsibilities to carry out gas safety checks, so they have been continuing to be done. If you are self-isolating, then gas safety checks can be delayed, as long as we have documented the reasons why. Please let us know via email as soon as you enter self-isolation, so that we can ensure the safety of you and any maintenance teams are protected during this time.

Please ensure you practice social distancing if any repairs or legal checks are required at your property during this time.


Working from home

If you are now working from home, make sure you maintain good physical and mental health during this period. Although it is second nature for many, it can be surprisingly challenging, particularly for extended periods. The BBC website has some simple tips which will help.  We can provide short term work from home furniture packages on a monthly basis in the London area for £30 a month, click here to find out more.





Advice for Landlords


Evictions

On 18th March, the government announced that eviction processes are to be suspended for three months, with no possession proceedings taking place during the crisis.  The intention was to give all tenants complete security that if they are unable to work, due to social isolation, lock-down or needing to be at home with children, they are safe in their home and do not have to worry about the risk of an eviction.

However, the Coronavirus Act that became law on 26 March, doesn’t actually ban evictions, it just extends the statutory notice period from two months to three for most renters.  In effect it means landlords can still serve notice and claim possession at the end of that period.  There may be additional emergency legislation, or the legislation could be extended, but that is unknown at the moment.  

The change in law only applies to notices served on or after 26 March. However, for existing possession claims there are likely to be significant delays to hearings as court hearings are currently suspended.

The law applies to all reasons for evictions including, for example anti-social behaviour.  If you have an anti-social tenant, then the best course of action is to keep in close telephone and email contact with your tenants and neighbours during this difficult time.  Try and diffuse any situation as quickly and calmly as you can remotely, especially if the tenant is going to remain in your property. In this situation, it’s best to show constraint and compromise. 


Rent arrears

It is likely that some tenants may find themselves unable to work during this time.  The government has effectively promised to cover the wages of many workers, but it is still possible that tenants may find themselves facing difficulties paying rent. 

The government has urged landlords and tenants to work closely whilst the situation unfolds, and should it be necessary, establish an affordable repayment plan when the tenant’s circumstances return to normal.    It is important to be realistic about how this can be managed. Setting a repayment plan that is too high could lead your tenant into long-term financial difficulties which could result in long-term rental arrears for you – simply extending the problem.  Please let us know if you want us to help with any drafting of a rental repayment plan. Similarly, if you do agree a plan directly with a tenant, please inform us.

There are rental guarantee insurances available that still protect you against any missed rent payments, and the government has implemented additional measures – such as mortgage breaks – that can ease your burden.


Protecting your income – rent guarantee insurance

There are a number of rent guarantee insurance products in the market which will cover your rent in the event of rental arrears. Because of the changing situation, the rental protection scheme providers of Howsy’s Rent Guarantee and Guaranteed Rent (as part of our Protect package) have now withdrawn their product to new customers.

You may still be able to find rent guarantee schemes with another provider, but please make sure you check their terms in relation to coronavirus.

You should be aware that any rent guarantee scheme may become redundant as the situation changes. We therefore cannot advise on whether taking up rent guarantee protection is a prudent decision or not.


Mortgage payment holidays

On 18th March the government announced financial support packages including a three-month mortgage holiday for those whose income was impacted by the virus.   From 19th March, mortgage lenders also suspended all possession orders, and will not be starting any new court actions against non-payment of mortgages for 90 days.

For landlords who find themselves with rental income interrupted by tenants who are unable to pay, this could be a real help, allowing a break on either your own personal mortgage, and/or that of your rental property. Be aware that this option may mean your monthly mortgage payment goes up after the payment holiday ends.

You must be up-to-date with mortgage repayments to apply, and be able to prove that your tenant has been directly affected (fallen ill themselves) or indirectly affected (lost their job, financially impacted etc) by the Coronavirus. Contact your individual mortgage provider directly for details of how to implement the break. 

It is worth checking to see if you have insurance that will cover your mortgage payments – for example, mortgage payment protection insurance or through your current account – as this may be more cost effective for you.


Renewals, tenant changes and evolving circumstances

On 12 May, government regulations were updated to allow people to move home, as long as they can adhere to social distancing guidelines. If your tenancy was due to end soon, but you and your existing tenant are happy to stay, then please contact us so that we can help negotiate an extension. They may be grateful for the security, and happy to stay in the comfort of a familiar home. 

For a tenant wanting to end their tenancy early, while you legally could enforce the terms of the tenancy and claim rent for the remaining period, it may be better to negotiate an end to the tenancy with the tenant or arrange a rent holiday with the tenant.  Please show compassion and empathy.


Inspections, repairs and safety checks

In line with updated government guidance, we can restart inspections and non-urgent repairs, as long as it’s possible to adhere to social distancing guidelines. 

There is no change to legislation with regards to compliance checks, such as gas and electrical safety – these have always been a requirement. If there is a reason they cannot happen (for example your tenants are self-isolating), then we will document any delays why the checks cannot be carried out and ensure that they are done as soon as reasonably possible when safe to do so. If you arrange these checks yourself, please also document any delays and send to us.

We have continued to fix urgent repairs during this time and this hasn’t changed. If you are arranging any repair work to be done, it is important to stress to any tradespeople and your tenant that government advice surrounding social distancing must always be observed. It is likely that these issues will also take longer than normal to resolve, due to demand and possible difficulty in obtaining parts and labour.   


Finding tenants and marketing your property

Even since the initial restrictions since 23rd March, we have seen sustained tenant for future moves. Historically, uncertain economic environments also tends to drive more rentals as people are less likely to buy property.  So we expect the lettings market to remain relatively robust overall.

On 12 May, the government lifted restrictions on the lettings market. Effectively immediately, you can now:

  • Hold property viewings
  • Prepare properties for renting (e.g. taking photos, inventory)
  • Move home

Guidelines on social distancing must be adhered to at all times still. If you, your existing tenants or prospective viewers are reluctant to attend a viewing, we can host virtual viewings for you, as well as recording a video walkthrough of your property which we can get on your property advert listing. If you produce your own video, remember that such a video is part of the marketing of the property and falls within consumer protection legislation. It must not contain false images or omit anything that could be a material consideration for a tenant in deciding to let the property.  You cannot simply ignore things like broken fixtures, damp or mould in such videos. They must be an honest representation of the property and its facilities.

Landlords and letting agents that rent a private property on an assured shorthold tenancy have to protect their tenants’ deposits in a government-backed tenancy deposit scheme. It’s the law, and it protects you too.

What is a tenancy deposit protection scheme (TDP)?

A tenancy deposit protection scheme has two main roles: to protect deposits in an authorised scheme, and to help resolve disputes about deposits.

What are the schemes I can use?

In England and Wales a deposit can be registered with one of these schemes:

They’re quick to join if you opt for what’s called custodial protection, where the deposit is held by the scheme provider for the duration of the tenancy. The other option is insured protection, where the landlord and the agent holds the deposit and the TDP scheme to protect it.

And while there are other schemes you could use, only the three above are protected in law. Other schemes won’t give the same level of protection for either landlords or tenants.

Does a landlord have to put deposit in a scheme?

Yes; as of 1 June 2019 it’s a legal requirement. You have to use a TDP even if a deposit is paid by someone other than the tenant, such as their parents. And you have to pay it in within 30 days of receiving it. Within that time, you must also tell your tenant:

  • the address of the rental property
  • how much deposit they’ve paid
  • how their deposit is protected
  • the name and contact details of the TDP scheme and its dispute resolution service
  • your (or the letting agency’s) name and contact details
  • the name and contact details of any third party that’s paid the deposit
  • why you would keep some or all of the deposit
  • how to apply to get the deposit back
  • what to do if they can’t get hold of you at the end of the tenancy
  • what to do if there’s a dispute over the deposit.

You don’t need an inventory to join a TDP but it can be helpful to have one anyway. It could help resolve any dispute that may arise at the end of a tenancy.

How can a tenant check if their deposit has been secured?

By visiting the website of the scheme their deposit is protected with and entering a few details, such as a code (provided by the landlord or letting agent), postcode, surname and/or the date the tenancy started. The details asked for differ from scheme to scheme but are all straightforward.

What are the benefits for landlords?

It allows them to have money as security should a tenant break the terms of the tenancy agreement.

What are the benefits for tenants?

They’ll get their deposit money back if, at the end of the tenancy, they:

  • meet the terms of their tenancy agreement
  • haven’t damaged the property
  • paid the rent and all bills in full.

Landlords must return a deposit within 10 days of agreeing with the tenant(s) how much they’ll get back.

How much deposit can a landlord ask for?

Landlords in England cannot legally ask for more than the equivalent of five weeks’ rent for new and renewed tenancies — or six weeks if the annual rent is at least £50,000.

What happens if you don’t protect a deposit?

A tenant can apply to the local county court if a landlord hasn’t used a TDP scheme when they should have.

Penalties include:

  • repaying the deposit in full to the tenant
  • paying it into a TDP scheme’s bank account within 14 days
  • a fine between one and three times the deposit amount, payable to the tenant
  • you may also lose the ability to get a court order to regain possession of the property (under a Section 21 notice of the Housing Act 1988). The landlord can only serve a Section 21 eviction notice after the deposit has been repaid, or after any court case about the deposit is over.

The court can decide that the tenant won’t have to leave the property when the tenancy ends.

What can a landlord deduct from a deposit?

The landlord or agent can take a payment from the deposit if:

  • both landlord and tenant have agreed
  • the court has ordered the deposit to be paid.

How are deposit disputes handled?

If there’s a disagreement about how much money should be given back, your tenancy deposit protection scheme offers a free dispute resolution service.

Your not obliged to use the service, but if you do, both tenant and landlord have to agree to it. You’ll both be asked to provide evidence, and the decision made about a deposit will be final. There’ll be no right to appeal. The entire process can be handled completely online. The alternative? Go through the courts.On a final note, the law requires your TDP scheme to guarantee only that the tenant receives the amount they’re entitled to. No more, no less.

Howsy uses MyDeposits.co.uk, a scheme authorised by the British Government that protects tenants’ money across England and Wales.

The new Tenant Fee Ban now effects all residential landlords in England. Whether you know much about it or not, landlords can’t afford to ignore the new legislation. Those who do risk facing a big fine. Here’s what you need to know…

What is the Tenant Fee Ban?

The Tenants Fee Act 2019 came into effect 1 June, making it now illegal to charge unfair additional fees — such as an admin fee — to tenants when they take on a new property, or renew a contract.

The ban automatically applies to all new contracts signed after 1 June 2019. From 1 June 2020 it will apply to all other applicable tenancy contracts too.

Why has the Tenant Fee Ban been introduced?

To make renting fairer for private tenants who for too long were being charged unfair fees each time they went to rent a new property.

Private renters in England — including families with dependent children — have been paying £13 million a month in letting fees, says Citizens Advice. One in seven tenants paid over £700, while one shelled out over £2000 for the privilege of moving into one property! 

The old ‘system’ was especially harsh on those forced to look for a new place because their landlord was selling up. In other words, it wasn’t their choice to move.

When landlords use a traditional letting agent to let out their property, the agent would charge to cover the purported costs of credit checks, referencing and drawing up the tenancy agreement, for example. Charges could also include a mandatory inventory fee, contract renewal fee, and an ‘admin fee’.

With so many people moving home every year, such fees could put a huge strain of families and individuals. Research by the Citizens’ Advice Bureau reveals that 42% of renters had to borrow money just to pay their tenant fees.

What does the tenant fee ban mean for landlords?

The government estimates that in its first year it could cost landlords up to £83m, and letting agents £157m.

What’s certain is that landlords cannot now lawfully charge:

  • Viewing fees 
  • All fees associated with setting up a tenancy, including referencing, inventory and credit checks
  • Check-out fees 
  • Third party fees 
  • Gardening services.

You can, however, charge for:

  • Rent
  • A refundable tenancy deposit (maximum five weeks’ rent, or six if the annual is £50,000 or more)
  • A holding deposit (capped at one week’s rent)
  • Replacing lost keys
  • Any changes the tenant asks to be made to the contract (capped at £50)
  • Bills, such as council tax, water, broadband, TV licence
  • Ending the contract early
  • Late rent payments (after 14 days, and only if written in the contract)
  • Cleaning fees in extreme circumstances.

Tenant fees account for about 19% of a letting agent’s income, with some agencies reporting as much as 30% of their annual income from tenant fees alone. Agents will look to recover this by increasing the fees they charge the landlords.

While many have argued that the landlord will in turn increase the rent they charge, there’s evidence this may not happen. The ban was introduced in Scotland in 2012,  yet only 2% of Scottish landlords were able to put up their rents because of the fee ban. Which means the hit is to be absorbed between landlords and letting agents. 

Experts agree that the most likely outcomes for landlords now are:

  • Face longer void periods because they increased rents to cover costs
  • Cut back on making improvements, which will see them unable to raise the rent or attract better-quality tenants
  • Decide to ‘self-manage’ their properties rather than use an agent, which will see many landlords struggling to stay abreast of property rules.

In Wales, agents and landlords will be banned from charging for viewings, signing a contract or renewing a tenancy from September. Northern Ireland have yet to announce a ban on tenant fees.

What is the risk of non-compliance?

Landlords and lettings agents who ignore the ban face an initial fine of up to £5,000. Those committing another breach within five years may be fined a maximum of an extra £30,000, and may possibly be taken to court.

The changes aren’t retrospective, so landlords and agents will not be penalised for fees already paid. They do, however, apply to all landlords, even those who only own one property.

Howsy — the smarter solution

We started Howsy to provide a fairer, kinder lettings service for both landlords and tenants. This is why we don’t charge our landlords or our tenants for:

  • advertising the property on big property search websites
  • referencing and credit checks
  • arranging viewings, or
  • drafting and renewing contracts. 

And we don’t take any ‘admin fees’ either. This was true before the new ban.

In fact, Howsy landlords don’t pay a thing until AFTER the tenants have moved in. And our tenants don’t pay anything besides their rent and deposit.

We offer a complete property management service for just £35 a month anywhere in England, and £55pm inside the M25. As a landlord, you’ll be completely covered for repairs, inspections and rent collections. And even for the eventuality that you’ll need new tenants.

For savvy landlords, this is the time to start looking around for better alternatives to your letting agent. Unlike Howsy’s model, getting out of a contract with a traditional letting agent can take up to six months. 

So, waiting until the last moment to start shopping around could mean facing the double impact of increased letting agent fees and the next Section 24 increase. Act now and protect your profits.

To find out more about what we can do for landlords, email us or call us on 0330 999 1234 today.

Welcome to Howsy! We are excited to share our new name, brand identity and purpose with the world. Our evolution from ‘No Agent’ to ‘Howsy’ is the result of 6 months of reflection on who we are as a company, how we got here, and where we want to go next.
As No Agent, we’ve grown incredibly fast over the past two years. But as we’ve scaled, we’ve realised that we can offer landlords and renters a lot more. At present, we are a fair alternative to traditional letting agents. But the property world needs a complete shake-down and re-build, and with Howsy we’re setting out to do just that.
We’re a team of both renters and landlords here at Howsy, and we dispute the idea that they are meant to be on opposite sides. Great landlords and great renters are united by their love of the same thing. And it goes way beyond property. Because it’s not just about renting a place to live, it’s about finding a home to love.
Because renting is something people are now going to be doing for the majority, or all of their lives, Howsy will continue to improve and innovate, bringing new products to the market, with the ultimate goal of making renting a better way of living – for both landlords and tenants. In the next few years, our goal is to create a global COMMUNITY of good landlords and renters.
While we are still a few steps away from that goal, we are moving towards it at speed. We are improving our tech, with the Howsy app about to be launched later this month, and with better finance and repairs systems behind the scenes. We’ve also added two new products and services, Howsy Protect and Howsy Club.

Introducing Howsy Protect

Howsy Protect is our new property management plan. On top of our standard property management service, its added features will allow you to be a completely hands-free and forget about unpaid rents or unexpected repair costs. All for a fixed monthly price that’s still lower than what you’d get on the high street.

Rent Protection

Howsy Protect will pay your rent within 5 days of the due date every month, even if the renter stops paying. You are covered for up to 2 months after eviction.

Repairs and maintenance covered

We’ll take care of most common repairs, appliances breakdown and home emergencies at no extra cost for you. We will use our network of suppliers to fix things such as a faulty fridge, burst pipe, pest infestations, broken boilers or a damaged dishwasher, to name a few.

Dedicated VIP line and named account manager

Your personal ARLA-qualified account manager will be within easy reach through our VIP priority support line. They’ll make sure you get the best possible price and great renters. They oversee the finer details and direct our customer experience team, making sure your property stays in tip-top shape and that your renters are happy.

Free premium Rightmove listing

Like with our Standard service, the whole process of finding you great renters is entirely free and included in the service. Protect also gives you 2 weeks of premium listing on Rightmove for your property.

Legal protection

If the worst happens and your renters stop paying rent, we will handle the entire eviction process and cover any court costs.

Free CP12 and Boiler Service each year

One of our Gas Safe registered engineers will check all the gas appliances and flues in your property every year and provide a Gas Safety certificate.

Howsy Protect is currently open to a small batch of our customers, if you would like to find out more and register your interest, call us on 0330 999 1234 or email us.

Howsy Club – renting with Zero Deposit

Howsy Club is a new way to rent. When you join the club as a renter, you will get loads of advantages such as not paying a deposit, discounts on local restaurants, 40% off cinema tickets and other perks. Club membership is £15 or £20/month, paid with your rent as normal.

At the end of the tenancy, you’ll still need to pay for any damages as agreed between you and your landlord.

Landlords that rent out their property under Howsy Club will get any lawful claims at the and of the tenancy covered for up to 8 weeks’ worth of rent. That’s 33% more than a standard 6 weeks deposit. When renters don’t have to pay a deposit upfront, their properties will also get more interest while advertised, and let faster. Starting November, this will be the default choice for all our marketed properties – unless the landlord opts out.

Find out more about Howsy Club.

Last but not least, a big thank you to our advisors, customers, family and friends. You inspire and push us further, and we couldn’t have gotten where we are without you. We can’t wait to build Howsy together! 🚀