Lettings guru David Lawrenson has given an unusual perspective on the government’s commitment to ban letting agents’ fees on tenants in England - he believes action by Rightmove and Zoopla could have averted the measure.
“We…said it was ridiculous that the previous [consumer] law did not require property portals such as Righmove, Zoopla etc. to display tenant fees in their property listings. Correcting this would have given greater clarity to tenants” writes Lawrenson on his latest LettingFocus newsletter, dispatched at the time of the Chancellor’s announcement yesterday.
Earlier this year Lawrenson said previous legal attempts to make fees more transparent, including the 2015 Consumer Rights Act obliging agencies to publicise their charges openly, missed an open goal by not including portals.
At the time he said: “Basically, the law is not working because it was designed badly, in that it fails to take account of the way that most tenants now search for rented accommodation – which is by using the portals. The rules on displaying fees only applies to adverts on letting and managing agents’ websites.
“They won’t visit the letting agents’ own websites and they won’t go into a branch, until they are about to sign the tenancy contract” he says.
His solution is that the legal responsibility for showing fees should have been placed on anyone connected with letting private rented accommodation to display fees - and that this would include the portals.