The National Approved Letting Scheme has stepped into the heated debate about letting agents’ charges by launching what it calls a Fair Fees Forum.
No details have yet been released but NALS says this involves representatives from industry, trading standards and consumer groups with the aim of creating a fair fees charter for the private rented sector.
The forum will explore whether a cap on upfront tenant fees is practical and enforceable, while also examining a uniform format to outline clearly the exact fees charged to tenants. The forum will consider how to curb what NALS calls “the fee excesses that may have crept into some parts of the market.”
The issue of letting agent fees in England refuses to go away, with increasing numbers of tenant organisations pushing for an outright ban on fees.
NALS has called in the past for a cap; the scheme has asked 1,000 of its letting agency members in England if they would agree that a cap on their fees might be appropriate, as opposed to an outright ban. Some 84 per cent agreed.
The research also shows that the fees letting agents charge per tenant are around £172 – significantly below the national average of £233 reported in the English Survey of Housing and recent figures quoted by the Citizens Advice Bureau.
“A good private rented sector cannot be free, and nor should it be. Agents should be paid for the work they do, but equally tenants should know they are paying a reasonable fee that has been explained to them clearly: nothing hidden, nothing excessive” says Isobel Thomson, chief executive of NALS.
“The bulk of letting agents are charging tenants a fair fee for their service. Where they aren’t, we believe excessive fess should be curbed. This is not a talking shop – it’s time to act on excessive tenant fees” she says.