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Campaigning agent tells lettings sector: "change is coming"

A prominent campaigner over the misappropriation of rental deposits has welcomed the news that government proposals to ban letting agent fees will also consider reforming how tenancy deposits are paid.

Ajay Jagota, owner of lettings and sales agency KIS and founder of PropTech deposit replacement insurance firm Dlighted, says his tally of ‘stolen’ money through deposits has now passed £300,000 during the first part of 2017 alone. 

He says the recent conviction of Croydon agent Thirunga Damayantharan for illegally keeping £15,000 of tenancy deposits has taken the total value of deposits known to be stolen in the first quarter of 2017 to £310,000 – with the annual total on course to exceed the £1m recorded in 2016. 

Earlier this month the Department of Communities and Local Government published a consultation document detailing plans for the banning of letting agent fees, as announced by Chancellor Philip Hammond in last year’s Autumn Statement.

The document also stated ”the government recognises that a deposit can be a significant amount of money for a tenant to find at the outset of a tenancy and in order to better support tenants to access and move around in the private rented sector, is keen to explore how this financial burden on tenants can be minimised”

Jagota is welcoming the news, saying: “The industry needs to accept that change is coming. Deposits are a financial burden on renters in need of minimising and it’s in the letting industry’s interest as much as anybody else’s that they are not only minimised but eliminated altogether.

“I can already see a path to a place where its costs agents money whenever they take a cash deposit. The chair of one of the tenancy deposit schemes seemed to be hinting in a recent interview that as ongoing low interest rates are making it harder to operate he wants to start charging for his services, You might think that will never happen, but a lot of people thought that a letting agent fee ban would never happen.”  

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