Amendments made to the existing Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations (2008) meant that from October 2014, anyone who has been a victim of misleading or aggressive practices including assured short-hold tenants could bring civil proceedings to redress the situation they find themselves in.
Prior to October 2014, if property (or other) businesses used unfair commercial practices in their dealings with consumers, consumers could either ask CMA or Trading Standards to take enforcement action against the business or they could fall back on civil actions, e.g. a claim in misrepresentation. The amendments meant that they could now exercise redress rights under part 4a of the 2008 Regulations.
The new rights apply to :
- assured tenancies, including assured shorthold tenancies;
- holiday accommodation leases
- contracts for letting and management services and estate agency services
The remedies open to those wronged include:
- unwinding their tenancy and refund;
- discounted rent
- damages for additional losses or harm they have suffered.
The additional rights available to tenants mean there are wider opportunities for disputes to occur and these could adversely affect the amount of rent landlords are able to recover. In any event, tenancy and agency agreements, will certainly come under increased scrutiny by tenants.
The revised rights are, however, restricted to where a contract or a payment is made after 1 October 2014 for the sale or supply of a “product” (including a tenancy or service contract). The contract or payment must be between a “trader” and “consumer” and there must have been a “prohibited practice”.
Familiarise yourself with the changes if you have not done so already. If you do not think you are compliant speak to a qualified solicitor and take advice. If you are a landlord, then clear and timely information should be provided to tenants, on such items as the guarantor and deposit requirements, the terms of the tenancy agreement and clear information on ending the tenancy.
If you are uncertain about the full scope of the Consumer Protection legislation and how it may affect your own interests, please contact Mark Ridley at rhw Solicitors in Guildford on 01483 302000 or email firstname.lastname@example.org