An Update on the Proposed Fee Ban for Letting Agents
Last week, not actually a full week, saw the proposed fee ban announced in the Chancellor's Autumn statement. Our email inbox was full of questions relating to the time-frame within which the ban would occur and also what would be considered a "tenant fee" as a list which had been published in the Renters' Rights Bill does seem to be missing some tenant fees. Baroness Grender of the Liberal Democrats introduced the Private Members' Bill and since then, it has successfully navigated its way through two unopposed readings in the House of Lords. It will have it's third reading probably after the Christmas recess. Another pressing question related to what the thinking is behind passing "costs" on to the landlord. I spent last week - a 3 day period - training a mixture of existing & new clients, and the proposed fee ban was a topic of discussion which we kept coming back to. I spend my working week working with a whole range of letting agents but one of the common dominator is that the commission charged to the landlord is so low. Yes, everything is relative - 10% per month for a fully managed service looks different in Gateshead when compared to Mayfair, yet because the "commission" is focused on by the landlord, agents tend to drop this fee , constantly competing against the next new agent to open two doors along. This "slashing" of fees has meant that there is a bigger emphasis on the fees charged to tenants. On Friday the Fair Fees Forum met (we had not been invited to attend) and the outcome was that they would prepare and present their findings in relation to the fees charged to tenants, the reason for the fee & the work involved. On Thursday, we had already started researching fees and making comparisons of 50 letting agents chosen at random in towns, cities and counties across England. We are half way through and the results are interesting. Please note we do NOT name letting agents in this study, although we are certain that most will recognise themselves.
Our findings to date are as follows:-
- The fees charged to tenants go beyond what the lobbyists have focused on. There are fees relating to every single possible "thing" you can think of.
- Fees are NOT at their highest in London.
- Some letting agents charge a minimal fee to tenants.
- At least 50% of letting agents are NOT displaying their fees on their website.
- Some agents are charging for Right to Rent checks.
We will submit our findings to Baroness Grender, Shelter, the Housing Minister, our local MP Charles Walker.br/> The report will also be made available to Guild Members.
If you wish to add your comments prior to the report being submitted, please email me directly - firstname.lastname@example.org
It is important that regardless of your opinion, you make your voice heard. Susie Crolla - CEO