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Fees: Agency boss wants 'Fairness' campaign for tenants and landlords

The head of a major lettings agency in Brighton says fees can work out to be “disproportionately high for tenants” but believes renters are willing to pay legitimate, fair and transparent fees - and he says the industry should let this be known.

Paul Bonett of Brighton-based Bonett’s letting and estate agency, writing in the Brighton and Hove Independent, says it is clear that the agent’s client is the landlord - and that in most walks of life, it’s the client who pays the majority of charges for any service offered. 

However, he says his own online research of agencies within Brighton alone reveals a wide disparity of charges imposed on tenants.

These include, for example, £0 to £300 set-up charge for a single tenant, between £30 and £120 administration fees per guarantor, £0 to £210 per tenancy agreement; £0 to £120 tenancy renewal charge for the same tenant; and early contract release fees ranging from £0 to £90. 

He also says that in his research he sometimes found it almost impossible to find the tenant fee page on many agents’ websites, despite industry guidance that such fees should be clear and transparent. 

“How will naïve tenants, perhaps with English as a foreign tongue, ever get fair treatment? Where do they start?” asks Bonett.

He says that as Brighton and Hove city council has already investigated this issue, it might be time for agents in the area to set up a ‘Letting Fairness’ standard that other towns and cities could follow, having ‘standard fees’ to tenants across the board.

“Good letting agents do put in excellent work for their landlords and their tenants and tenants do not complain if the fee level is justified by the work. What people hate is feeling they have been ‘ripped off’” says Bonett in the article.

And he concludes with a clarion call to the industry: “If agents don’t make the first move, the government is unlikely to bother to consult widely before making big changes.”

You can read the full article here. Bonet’s call comes at the same time as the Association of Independent Inventory Clerks has called for a similar industry-wide voluntary initiative.

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