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Advice from a letting agent where fees are already banned

The managing director of one of the most prominent letting agencies in Edinburgh and Glasgow - where agents’ fees on tenants are already banned - has given his view of how his sector adapted to the law change in Scotland back in 2012.

In the Autumn Statement last week, Chancellor Phillip Hammond said he was banning letting agents’ fees levied on tenants in England, although this is subject to further clarification and a consultation process expected to start in the new year.

David Alexander of Alexander Lettings says: “As is the case in England just now, established Scottish agents were initially strongly opposed to the change.

“Most took the view that fees were fair and reasonable and that the problem lay with a relatively small minority within the industry who charged tenants more than was necessary.”

However, Alexander says that without abandoning the basic principle that up-front fees were justified, the reputable end of the sector – comprising the majority of firms – ‘rolled up its sleeves’ and got down to complying with the new law.

“Individual agencies, of course, adapted in different ways. In our own case, with circa 5,000 properties under management in Edinburgh and Glasgow and with a substantial number of tenants coming from the corporate sector, we were able to pursue various alternative revenue options.  

“Indeed, the need for change opened a number of new doors and led to an overall increase in the efficiency of the company” he says.

“Four years on, the markets in Scotland’s two biggest cities are buoyant but with supply and demand reasonably balanced, to the general benefit of both landlords and tenants. And established bona fide letting agents, who learned to live with the legislation, are continuing to thrive.”

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    Great advice, thanks very much...🙄

  • Mark Wilson

    It looks like half the article is missing. I couldn't see any advice!

  • Adrian Dunk

    My life is now fulfilled :/

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    Agree with the comment above - looks like half the article is missing. Therefore it is not much use or help. What were the "various alternative revenue options"?

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    Great journalism, thanks for the advice and getting straight to the point !!!

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    D J's have never been shy about using journalists to plant free publicity articles for them. The Edinburgh Evening news runs about four articles a year attributed to them claiming that rents are soaring whether they are or not.

    Never the less the advice is correct that Letting Agents in Edinburgh are not losing out due to the ban on fees.

    The ban on letting agent fees and other government interference has driven rents up by approx. £140pcm. Therefore letting agents are able to recoup their fees from the increase in Management fees collected all be it takes a longer period of time.

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    Which is why as usual government' interference' is badly thought out xxxx as it never takes into account that business costs are business costs that someone ultimately will have to pay as these checks need to be done.....

     
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    Very motivational - I don't know how we would have managed without that invaluable advice. Perhaps David Alexander could become an advisor for the Brexit team?

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    Leigh
    Look at it this way - those who can do, those who can't go into teaching OR GO INTO POLITICS!

    I suspect that Mr Alexander is in the group of those who can so why would he ever consider going into politics and be part of the Brexit Team. Remember that Scotland voted to stay in said EU and perhaps Mr A is in that category.

    You just had a knee jerk reaction and forgot to engage brain before writing in these columns. You are clearly a typical idiot estate & letting agent methinks.

     
  • Don Holmes

    As a growing lettings franchise group in England and Scotland, as we have recently launched in Glasgow, we have some concerns about the loss of a great part of our agents income. However it was I guess, inevitable, given the Scottish decision and the pressure from the liberal elite in England (Shelter) And so yes, it would be good if Mr Alexandra was forthcoming with some advise and guidance, but why would he want to educate the competition? In the meantime as a business we need to be able to recover our costs which may mean increasing, or at least adjusting our fee structure, so what we have been working on in anticipation , is adding value in our service provision to our landlords and that is I think all we can all do. But lets not be too despondent as there is still hope? LOL.

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    One of the differences between Scotland and the rest of the UK is that in 1988 the rest of the UK lifted the ban on premiums whilst in Scotland the ban on premiums was not lifted as a protest against the 1988 housing act.

    It was the ban on premiums that eventually resulted in letting agents fees being banned in Scotland after Shelter put pressure on The Scottish government to clarify that letting agent fees were premiums.

    As premiums are not banned in the rest of the UK there is no reason why the rest of the UK should follow Scotland.

     
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    Who pays for referencing human (rather than corporate) applicants, especially those who would not previously have wanted to spend their own money getting reference checked, as they knew that they would fail due to CCJ's etc? Take a 'deposit' instead of a 'fee' only refunded if they pass the ref check? Messy.

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    'Deposits' in any sense of the word have to be protected, then agreed by both parties to be repaid or they go to arbitration. How would this work? Even if you get the 'applicant' (not tenant) to sign to say they accept it, do we know if the Deposit Schemes are in agreement? I doubt it.
    Also, another issue could be those applicants that apply for several properties and don't bother to let you know until the time they should have been signing? Who's going to pay for the lost time there?
    Tenants will soon start complaining when it happens in reverse, that agents can't stop marketing a property if they can't guarantee the applicant is geniune.

     
  • Kristjan Byfield

    Ummmmmmmmmmmm.....................when's part 2 out?

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    Full of beautiful words, it is to be politically correct. To ban agents' fee is just a simple, demagogic answer to complex problems.

    But DJ Alexander lettings indeed have good reputation in Edinburgh, they provide good services and they care about their reputation. Hope this kind of letting agents continue.

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    What it means are: lettings agent will find tenants for landlords who has full management contract first, because they recover the loss of the agent's fee from the increase of the management fee monthly. If the supply is buoyant as well, it means the higher the rental, the longer it takes to find the tenant. So whose cost is it to Ban Agents' Fee, it is charged on landlords, Of Course. It is always on landlords.

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