A local authority is setting up a not-for-profit ‘ethical’ lettings agency and is aiming to woo landlords with a promise of no fees for tenants.
Guildhall Residential Lettings has been set up by Northampton council.
Conservative councillor Stephen Hibbert has told the Northampton Chronicle: “We’re going to target the people who are struggling to find a home, so it will help people in need like the disabled. Once the landlord knows they are on benefits, they tend not to take them on board. We will be willing to do that providing they can show a willingness to pay their rent through the benefit.”
Promotional material for the agency, situated on the council’s own website, says: “As an ethical social lettings agency, our terms of business are clear and simple. There is no small print, there are no hidden charges and, when we say we’ll do something, we do it.
“Landlords have told us that they want a good return on their investment. They have also told us that they want a letting agent they can trust, and tenants who look after the property, pay their rent on time and want to settle in the same place for a while.
“Guildhall Residential Lettings operates a private sector leasing scheme and provides a comprehensive and professional property management and lettings service. We provide expert, impartial advice on all aspects of leasing and letting and, by encouraging self-service and making best use of the latest technology, we are able to provide landlords and tenants with excellent, value for money services.”
While there are no fees for tenants there are plenty of them for landlords.
There will be a one-off set up cost of £500 to cover inventory, inspection and admin costs; then there’s a management fee of 12 per cent of the monthly rent; and there’s a tenant finder service which charges 50 per cent of the first month’s rent.
In return the landlord receives precisely 76 per cent of the market rent, a pledge that the tenant will hand back the property in good condition, and the possibility of interest-free loans to fund essential repairs.