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.”