For many years private renters in England have had to fork out ever increasing fees as letting agents became ever more creative in extracting cash from both landlords and tenants. Fees are already banned in Scotland.
This double dipping will now come to an end with a ban on fees to tenants beginning in less than three months on 1st June.
Currently many agents charge duplicate fees for landlords and tenants when drawing up contracts, property checks and a what seems an ever-increasing number of fees – often running into many hundreds of pounds per person.
The Government decided to draw a halt to the practice and the bill recently passed both houses and became law. As a service is being provided to landlords to find tenants (who are also charged fees from agents) the argument is why should tenants should then pay? If a company seeks a staff member then a job agency doesn’t charge a job applicant for references.
An example of the fees charged can be seen from Mann – part of the UK’s largest estate agency group Countrywide. Research shows a minimum fee of £622 for two tenants. Charging £300 for printing off a standard 10-20 page contract is a bit of a joke alongside high fees for references (and credit checks cost a fiver).
Countrywide have severe financial difficulties and have increased fees as the share price slumped. Could it be greed has turned tenants away from such gouging further exacerbating their problems? Many agents are in similar position and only have themselves to blame.
Even now its passed there are reports of agents denying this in conversation with prospective tenants – or claiming a date isn’t finalised. Wrong on both counts – as can be seen here.