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Anti-fees street protest staged outside letting agency office

The campaign group Acorn, which has in the past named individual letting agencies that it claims are charging unfairly high fees, has now held a street protest outside a branch of a Bristol agent.

Acorn’s Bristol coordinator, Jane McDowell, told a video for the group’s website that fees in the city were “extortionate” and claimed her group had studied fees from six agents levied for incoming tenants of a two typical two bedroom property with rent of £950 pcm. 

The average fees – not including a deposit or the first month’s rent – totalled £1,140.

“How is this affordable for ordinary people?” she asks in the video.

She also tells the camera that she and her group were urging members of the public to participate in the government’s official consultation on the proposal to ban letting agents’ fees imposed on tenants in England. 

“We know full well that people several of the agencies will be filling in that consultation to say they should not be banned, but for decency’s sake they should be” she said.

Elsewhere on the website the group names a specific agency it claims let a property in poor condition, and has a petition naming the firm again and urging it to conduct repairs “on time and to an acceptable standard” and to exercise “transparency about deposits.”

Up to the time that Letting Agent Today checked yesterday, however, there were only 62 signatories to the petition.

  • Robert Ulph

    This is the problem that throughout the country fees seem to vary so much. If this is correct these agents should be named and shamed for ripping people off. Our average fee is £240 here in the east, which most tenants don't have a issue with. If we could not charge these fees to a tenant they would go to the Landlord who would put rents up. Its false economy but bring it on if it happens as I might just open a branch in Bristol and clean up if these fees get transferred to a Landlord after the ban. We would be so much cheaper than all the competition.

  • icon

    This is precisely why we are facing a ban on Agents fees, due to greed. Our fees are a simple £70 per applicant this covers referencing. They are then charged 50% of the cost of the Inventory (which lets face it is in the Tenants best interests as well as the Landlord, it is what protects their security deposit after all) so we do not consider a 50/50 split unreasonable. Agents have been greedy and now all of us once more will pay the price!

  • jeremy clarke

    I seem to recall that the Lettings business model has always been different in Bristol with most agents not charging landlords a fee for letting a property but charging the tenants a percentage of monthly rent. When the van arrives it will be interesting in Bristol!

  • icon

    Time to WAKE up tenants' are consumers just like us all.
    As a sector "in general", they have been taken for granted for too long and now through technology and new entrants the focus and therefore the power is shifting.

    Some strategic thinkers in corporations get it and are trialling lots of options (mainly based around tech) focusing on consumers to create a better more inclusive, experience, because remember without them we have no business.

    I await the usual trolling and torrent of abuse from the usual suspects.....

  • Kristjan Byfield

    Fees like this are what are damaging our industry and have caused the (almost certain) ban. Most agent seem to average around £300 so no idea how anyone can justify x3-4. Read this prepared to rant on a pointless move by Acorn but, if their fee research is accurate, good on them- that is just ripping people off beciase you can.

  • icon

    Yet a law firm is most welcome to charge £100 + a letter.

    Best thing for you to do instead of protesting - go check the paper for a landlord who owns a unlicensed and illegal HMO who will accept your deposit paid into his bank account who will then no doubt return it.

    Agreed that the fees seem high, but I am not sure what gives this group the right to protest. Don't like it, go to another agent down the road. Simples. If everyone had this view of the agent then the properties wouldn't let and landlords wouldn't use them.

  • icon

    I wonder how many landlords know of these extortionate costs to the applicants. I know all agents are obliged to publish their fees/costs on their website and in their offices but I bet not many landlords will be too aware of this.

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