A LAW to protect tenants from hidden fees could hit Swindon landlords with penalties, two local firms are warning.

Lawyers from professional services firm Optimum have issued a joint warning with the estate agency Moovahome to alert landlords of the new legislation.

From June 1 the Tenants Fees act, which passed through its final stages in parliament this month, will come into force, meaning a ban on tenants fees and a cap on tenancy deposits.

The legislation is designed to protect tenants from paying hidden fees, but could mean landlords picking up the bill for all other costs.

These include advertising, credit searches, Right to Rent verification, and completion of a property inventory.

The government is yet to publish its guidelines on how to avoid falling foul of the new rules.

“There is a raft of new legislation coming in, which affects the private rental sector, but many landlords may not be fully aware of their obligations,” said Iain Mason, head of legal property Services at Swindon-based Optimum.

“If they aren’t prepared, they could face penalties or even prosecution.”

Iain added: “The Tenant Fees Bill took a long time to get through Parliament, but now it has become law, it gives landlords the certainty they need to prepare.”

Ashley Cain, managing director of Swindon-based Moovahome, said: “Along with the tenant fee ban, landlords who self-manage need to understand other legislative changes, such as being part of a redress scheme, having a complaints procedure in place and the introduction of electrical safety certificates.

"They also have to meet their current obligations, such as Right to Rent checks.

“Omitting these simple things in the letting process could lead to huge fines for landlords, so our advice is to get prepared in advance of advertising your home for let.”

The arbitration Property Redress Scheme, which lettings agents need to sign up for, will also apply to individual landlords, and is expected to become a legal requirement at the end of the year.

The two firms will be running a presentation for private landlords to give them more details on the new rules.

For more information go to www.optps.co.uk.