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Campaign set up to 'force' government to honour fees ban

A campaign group has been refocussed with the objective of making the government honour its Autumn Statement pledge to ban letting agents’ fees levied on tenants.


The campaign is run by Acorn, an organisation which in the past has led protests outside individual letting agency branches and has called for agents to be 'rated' by tenants.



Renters Rising, based in Bristol, has produced a video with a number of unsourced claims including one stating that half of the UK's 11m private renters are in households with children, that tenants spend half their income on rent and are hit with “extortionate” (but unspecified) tenancy fees and that “two thirds of [privately rented] homes are damp and unhealthy.”


It also contends that a quarter of all private renters have faced eviction, and that eviction is now the UK’s biggest single cause of homelessness, and that (unspecified) complaints and the number of cases of evictions are rising.


The video claims “15,000 people have joined [Acorn] in the past two years” and says its staff and volunteer supporters are “training” tenants to build campaigns against slum landlords and political opponents.


The video then turns into a fund-raising effort, saying that by Christmas it wants to recruit “500 more donors” each giving a monthly sum of £8 - if achieved, that would be an extra £48,000 a year for the group.


Acorn, which says it started the Renters Rising campaign back in September but is now refocussing it to ensure the government honours it ban pledge, claims to have held or be holding events in Bristol, Newcastle, Reading, Sheffield, Oxford and Brighton “with more to be announced.”


On the campaign’s website it heralds the Conservative government’s announcement on banning letting agency fees against tenants and claims that “letting agent lobbyists ARLA are already fighting the plans with a £5m war chest.”

A spokesperson for the group, blogging on its website, says:

“The Association of Residential Letting Agents, the biggest letting agent lobby organisation in the country, quickly went into meltdown at the prospect of their members no longer being able to charge money for nothing. They are already starting to get their hustle on. When the government consult on this, they'll fight tooth-and-nail.

“We know why letting agent fees are exploitative: letting agents exist to serve landlords, not tenants. And we know that they can stomach a ban; the industry’s 30 per cent profit margins mean that we won’t be seeing any letting agents going hungry and homeless anytime soon.

“This will come down to a classic fight between organised money and organised people. ARLA has turnover of around £5million per year. With less than a twentieth of that budget, Renters Rising can organise renters into a powerful, permanent renters union, and together we can build the collective strength to win this and many more fights ahead.”

  • Mark Wilson

    Power to the people!

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    What a lot of attacking words, “ no longer being able to charge money for nothing”, “exploitative”.

    Firstly, I agree that fees should be capped. Our Agency charges a one of fee in respect of the referencing, where the tenants are also provided with a copy of the inventory and tenancy agreements, the deposit is also protected. As long as a tenant looks after the property and pays the rent on time and circumstances remain the same, there is no reason a tenant would be evicted.

    ARLA and other organisations are against rouge landlords and agents, that is what the government should be concentrating on, ensuring that all agents are licensed.

    Whilst Acorn state that agents can “stomach a ban”, who is going to compensate the agents for the loss of income, when fickle tenants apply for several houses unbeknownst to the agent or landlord.

    It would be interesting for a representative of Acorn or indeed Shelter to spend time with an ethical Agent to actually see what we do.

    Im sorry Mark Wilson, but ‘we are the people too’ !

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    I am going to start my own protest group too.

    Just need 400 Donors paying £5 a month and I will never charge another tenant a fee for as long as I keep getting the donations.

    All joking aside, I agree with Fraser wood. There should be a cap on fees, and in my experience, if a tenant pays their rent on time and looks after the property, 99% of the time landlords are happy for them to stay there indefinitely.

    The only reason we have had tenants evicted in the last 2 years is down to rent arrears (4-6 months in a couple of cases) so section 8 notice served or the tenants is on benefits, wants to be rehoused by the council but needs the landlord to evict them through section 21. We have had a couple of landlords sell properties, usually only once a tenant has given them notice, only had 1 tenant evicted so a landlord can sell.

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    Just another lobby group attacking free enterprise and part of the something for nothing crowd......

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    Who protects landlords when tenants exploit them? When tenants exploit the house? Letting properties is the only industry where 'theft' costs the victim not the guilty party. We can't agree to buy a coat, where the coat for months, destroy the coat, leave the coat in tatters and expect someone else to pay for it and fix it for free - so why is property any different? The law states you're not allowed to make people homeless, but if you abuse the property and refuse to pay rent you have made YOURSELF homeless. You have the option to move. The utility suppliers got around the law of not being able to cut off supply by installing meters. There is no protection for landlords, it's a very costly and very lengthy process to evict someone. Not all landlords are Lord Grantham with endless pots of money! Service fees that are capped are worth every penny!

  • Paul Smithson

    Should be a bad tenants list like Australia! Or maybe Arla could do that to try and justify their fees! As they are a weak organisation, before I left for 6 months I removed all reference to Arla on l/heads window stickers etc and not one existing/new Landlord asked if we were members!, We left saving a fortune in fees.

  • Jon Huby

    We had a case recently where a viewer of a property complained about our application fee stating "I know what you lot are like, I work in a Solicitors" when I asked how much her solicitor charged for sending a letter she blushed and wouldn't answer!......ironic.

    I believe there should be a cap and stricter regulation to weed out the unscrupulous agents who charge multiple fees on one property. Campaign groups like Acorn need to understand that an agent is instructed to look after a Landlords property and an ethical agent will only act accordingly when the tenant doesn't abide by their obligations.

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    I'm with Vanessa - there is the 'Damp' issue alluded to by Acorn - fair enough, a property with structural faults or one which is poorly maintained by the Landlord is of course one of the causes that 'damp' happens and rightly so a Tenant should expect these issues to be addressed however then there is the 'other Damp' or is that condensation perhaps? poorly ventilated properties, wet clothes on radiators, windows tightly closed, extractor fans turned off, sopping towels slung over doors and tropical temperatures where the humidity can be breath taking - and the Landlord/Agent tries to educate, fit trickle vents, provide information, demonstrate ventilation techniques and offer good old fashioned advice only to be pilloried by others for allowing their Tenants to suffer so! Over the years most of our Tenants have been pretty good and take the advice on board but there will always be some that don't believe we are trying to help.


    I have lost count of the times tenants have complained of damp when it is evidently condensation!

    We have stopped arguing with tenants on this now and just instruct a damp survey, once the report is in, we forward it to the tenants as proof.


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