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Press releases 2002 -

OFT helps tenants get fairer deal from landlords

PN 19/02    23 April 2002

Private tenants who are uncertain about the terms of their tenancy agreements are being given a helping hand in a new OFT consumer leaflet.

'Unfair tenancy terms – don't get caught out' highlights some of the pitfalls consumers may come across when entering into a tenancy agreement. The leaflet includes examples of what the OFT considers to be unfair terms, gives consumers advice on what to do if they think their tenancy agreements are unfair and on where to go to get further help.

Download Unfair tenancy terms – don't get caught out (pdf format 62 kb)

The private rental sector is worth around £5,700 million a year and involves some 1.4 million tenancy agreements.

John Vickers, Director General of Fair Trading said:

'Thousands of people rent their homes – for example, students renting accommodation for the first time away from home. They may not get a fair deal if they don't understand their tenancy terms. This leaflet will help people identify unfair terms.'

Terms outlined in the leaflet as likely to be unfair include those that:

  • make tenants pay for repairs that are the landlord's responsibility
  • allow the landlord to enter the premises without giving reasonable notice when there is not an emergency
  • prevent tenants assigning (allowing a suitable person to take over the tenancy) at all
  • allow the landlord the exclusive right to determine how much of the deposit to keep at the end of the tenancy without challenge
  • make tenants pay an excessive interest rate or penalty charge for late payment of rent.

The leaflet follows the OFT guidance to landlords and housing advisers on unfair terms in tenancy agreements which was issued in November 2001.

NOTES

1. 'Unfair tenancy terms – don't get caught out' is available from OFT, PO Box 366, Hayes, UB3 1XB, by phoning 0870 606-321, emailing oft@eclogistics.co.uk.

2. The leaflet covers potential unfairness in assured and assured shorthold tenancy agreements in England and Wales. It deals with standard terms that are drawn up in advance, and not those individually negotiated with the tenant.

3. The Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations (UTCCRs) came into force on 1 October 1999 and replaced the 1994 Regulations. The regulations implement an EC Directive (EC Directive 93/13) in the UK. UTCCRs apply to standard contract terms used with consumers in contracts made after 1 July 1995. The Regulations say that a consumer is not bound by a standard term in a contract with a seller or supplier if that term is unfair. They also give the Director General of Fair Trading and other Qualifying Bodies powers to stop the use of unfair standard terms, if necessary by obtaining a court injunction. Ultimately only a court can decide whether a term is unfair.

4. The OFT's Guidance on unfair terms in tenancy agreements for landlords is also available on the OFT website.




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