Information on changes to your licence agreement
Licence agreement changes
There are some changes to terminology and we’ve added some statements for clarity’s sake about processes which weren’t previously explicitly mentioned. We’ve added these as we want to ensure you know where you stand and what to expect from us.
Throughout the sign-up process, we talk a lot about your agreement being a property guardian licence rather than a tenancy agreement. We’ve included the following statements to make this clearer:
- The purpose of property guardianship and the agreement is to ensure premises are protected from trespassers and are secure.
- Our agreement doesn’t create a landlord – tenant relationship
- The agreement does not give the licensee ‘exclusive possession’ of a premises. We are required to and will carry out regular, unscheduled and unannounced inspections of the property including bedrooms. This is for the safety of our property, its guardians and the health and safety, and security standards of the premises. It is a requirement of our contract with our clients and supports the legal framework of guardianship.
- We’ve replaced the term ‘deposit’ with ‘security’ as a point of difference from a tenancy agreement. This will generally be referred to by Dot Dot Dot staff as the refundable security payment.
Whilst the following practices are already part of how we operate, we’ve updated the agreement to include them so you’re as clear as possible on how we operate and what to expect:
- We’ve confirmed that interest (3% above the Bank of England base rate) will be charged on outstanding fees which are late by 14 days or more.
- We state that Dot Dot Dot will not stand for any criminal conduct on our premises and that any breach of obligations from the licensee will result in immediate notice being given by a licensor.
- Following the loss of keys, charges will be made for any replacement copies made.
Changes to your refundable security payment – Tenant Fee Act June 2019
On 1st June 2019, the new Tenant Fee Act came into force. Though we aren’t landlords, there is no equivalent governing law for Property Guardianship companies, so we believe that we should follow this to ensure we’re adhering to the most appropriate and relevant guidelines for you.
The Tenant Fees Act bans most letting fees [Dot Dot Dot has never charged letting fees] and caps tenancy deposits at 5 weeks’ worth of rent. In the case of Dot Dot Dot, this is 5 weeks’ worth of your licence fee and is now referred to as your refundable security payment.
The aim of the act is to reduce the outgoings of a tenant [in this case, guardian] at the beginning of their tenancy / guardianship so that it is more achievable for individuals to get into accommodation. We are not the same as rented accommodation and our guardians do not have the same rights as a tenant would but we do believe that your refundable security payment shouldn’t be a huge stretch.
Fee Change explanation:
We have carried out a fee review process internally with the whole team looking line by line at all of our guardians and what they are paying on a monthly basis.
Changes in costs
Like any business, Dot Dot Dot’s costs are subject to change over time. As well as the costs of our own staff and contractors, there can be a wide range of other costs including: council tax; utility costs; repairs and maintenance. Guardian fees should allow us to operate sustainably and to cover any increases in these costs over time. This is a key factor in many of the changes in our 2019 fee review.
Changes in the market
The market for housing can change very quickly, and can vary significantly between areas. This can lead to fees that are out of step with the current demand for the area. Where current guardians are paying fees that are very low or very high compared to the current fee schedule, we will consider adjusting the fees to correct the anomaly. We will always do this in a way that is fair and reasonable.
Consistency and fairness
From time to time, fee changes and issues affecting a particular property or guardian can lead to fees being inconsistent (i.e. different fees being paid for similar properties). Because both guardians and Dot Dot Dot need to be flexible and adaptable, this is a normal feature of guardianship and some inconsistency is acceptable. As part of our 2019 pricing review we have tried to address larger inconsistencies, so that our fees are fairer between guardians. This has led to both increases and decreases in fees for some guardians. Fairness also includes the need to treat individuals reasonably, and so we will put in place special arrangements to avoid making sudden large increases in fees for existing guardians.
Guardians subject to increases in fees
Most guardians facing higher fees will see only a small increase. This will not necessarily be pegged to local inflation in rental prices, but typically will be close to those values. During our 2019 fee review, we will always give at least one month of notice for any changes, and will give additional notice in most cases. Any guardian who will face difficulty in paying the revised fees should contact us to discuss their situation.
In some instances guardians may be subject to larger fee increases. In many of those cases, Dot Dot Dot will offer longer notice periods and will pro-actively contact the relevant guardian to discuss the impact of the change and how it might affect that person. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you are concerned about the impact of changes to your fees.
Please find our updated ‘Rules’ document here [updated October 2019]