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Distance Selling

  • Accommodation is exempt from the rules normally applicable to distance selling.  However, guarantors of tenants may be entitled to a 14 day cooling off  period from 1 July 2014.
  •  the guarantor relationship could be treated separately from any tenant supported by his guarantor. The new rules double the cooling period to 14 days. Some house or room lets are time sensitive. Students happy to arrive in September do not like moving two weeks later in October.
  • There is a tangible cut off point capable of being compromised by the extended cooling period. It could affect unique situations: lets say the smallest least attractive room available in a house is last to reserve or replace a drop-out tenant and this immediately prior to start of term in September.
  • Were a student unable to travel quickly enough to view before a room was reserved by others they may book "blind" even paying the admin fee by phone (consideration). The room now booked means the landlord turns all other students away who will have found a home elsewhere within days not weeks. Two weeks later prior to expiration of the cooling time when all students have found alternative accommodation a guarantor refuses to sign the guarantor agreement and or deliberately fails the credit check by refusing to answer the questions.
  • The new rules will exacerbate an already tricky deadline without countenancing yet more.
  • This could result in a void potentially lasting one year until the following September when the same scenario could repeat ad infinitum.
  • With no Guarantor and little prospect of securing alternative student tenants mid October after term starts where does this leave the letting agent?
  • What advice does the agent give his landlord client?
  • The agent or landlord will likely have turned away many other last minute prospective tenants in reliance on any initial payment and promise of a guarantor.
  • During vetting a guarantor realising he is unsuitable refuses to answer credit queries thereby failing the credit check.
  • Where does that leave everyone... legally?
  • Worse the tenant may demand a full refund of the non-refundable administration fee!
  • We are always extremely reluctant to reserve a room or property "blind" when close to likely "cut off" points.
  • There is too little contingency time if things go wrong.
  • One is never certain whether any cut off point has already past!
  • Not until further requests are declined over the intervening  days FOLLOWING a reservation, does it become apparent that the property could have let to physically present tenants and guarantors.
  • The distant 'bird in the hand' on the end of the phone - is better than two still to fly in through the high street doors.
  • A foreign student cannot justify the cost of an advanced flight to view a room when such transactions normally occur without incident.  But with 14 days cooling, such incidents are now more likely.
Published: 24 September 2015 Last Updated: 17 November 2021