However, with the Tenants Fees Bill due to become law next year, our role has never been more vital, particularly when it comes to ensuring landlord compliance.

The Tenants Fees Bill will ban landlords for charging tenants for necessary administration such as credit checks, immigration checks and references. The new regulations are also set to include maximum deposits of six weeks' rent and holding deposits to be capped at no more than one week's rent. In addition, landlords will be required to comply with strict new rules regarding change or early termination of tenancy, payments arising from incidents such as loss of keys and new rules regarding utilities, communication and council tax.

Failure to comply with the new law will have significant repercussions for landlords. An initial breach could see them facing fines of £5,000, while repeat offenders could be fined up to £30,000.  While few landlords would knowingly impair their tenants' wellbeing by deliberately neglecting their legal responsibilities, it can be difficult to keep up with the huge raft of changes; for example, if landlords do not comply with the new energy efficiency rules, they could be fined £5,000. Another significant change involves putting the onus on the landlord to prove that their tenant has the right to live in the UK, with a fine of £3,000 applicable if this is not the case.

Of course, despite the new regulations, some landlords will still feel confident enough to go it alone in a bid to save money on letting agent fees. However, for the vast majority this can prove to be a false economy. This is because even if a landlord takes the proactive approach needed to stay compliant, engaging a reputable letting agent's local expertise and network means their properties will have a higher occupancy rate than that which is usually achieved by those who choose the DIY route.

Investing in the services of a well-established letting agent also means landlords can rest assured they are fulfilling all their new legal obligations by using a totally transparent service. Not only do all lettings agents in England and Wales have to publicise their fees, they also have a legal obligation to give details of the redress scheme that they are required to be a member of. They also must have professional indemnity insurance to cover claims for negligence, bad advice or the mishandling of data.

Most letting agents will also offer a tailored service according to the budget and portfolio size of individual landlords. This can range from charging a one-off fee for finding a suitable tenant to full management, including rent collection, dealing with issues and overseeing maintenance, often using preferential rates with local tradespeople.

Although the new regulations involve upheaval, once they are established,
they can only have a positive impact on tenants, landlords and letting agents alike. In the meantime, the services of an experienced letting agent are a must for landlords' peace of mind as they implement the changes.

Jill is Director of residential lettings, Andrew Granger & Co.