Consumer protection law for lettings professionals: CMA31
Guidance for lettings professionals on complying with consumer protection laws, and laws about dealing with other businesses.
This guidance is for all professionals involved in the lettings market, including letting agents, landlords and property intermediaries.
It aims to help lettings professionals to comply with consumer protection laws, and laws about dealing with other businesses, in the context of letting privately owned residential property.
In February 2013 the Office of Fair Trading (OFT), a predecessor organisation to the CMA, published ‘The lettings market – an OFT report’.
A response to the consultation on the draft guidance is also available.
The fines that could be imposed on summary conviction for certain criminal offences referred to in this document were, at that time, subject to specific caps of £5,000 or above. With effect from 12 March 2015, these caps have been removed and those specific offences are now punishable by a fine of any amount. For more information see the Ministry of Justice news story.
3.10.19: The CMA included the example of ‘housing benefit claimants’ in this guidance (page 49) to account for circumstances where a particular property cannot be let by a landlord to those on housing benefit, i.e. when a term of a contract, such as a mortgage contract, specifies this, as this would constitute material information for would-be tenants (equally, claiming that such a term exists when it does not would be misleading) . Where such restrictions do exist for a specific property they need to be brought to the attention of prospective tenants. The inclusion of housing benefit claimants as an example does not justify or excuse letting agents or property portals having blanket bans in place against those on housing benefit.
In March 2019 the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government announced plans to look at letting adverts which potentially discriminate against would-be tenants on housing benefit and made clear these should end. In light of this, the CMA would be concerned if terms that specify that a property cannot be occupied by a person in receipt of housing benefit are currently being included in any new contracts
Last updated 3 October 2019 + show all updates
A clarification has been added to page 49 of the guidance, and to the details section on the page. This clarification is in relation to the example of 'housing benefit claimants' in the guidance.