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TODAY'S OTHER NEWS

Agent attacks lettings industry for 'immoral' and 'below the belt' fees

The head of the online lettings agency recently scooped up by Emoov says traditional lettings agents have made a rod for their own back over fees because they have exploited tenants.

Adam Male, director of letting at Urban, says the Tenants’ Fees Bill is a step in the right direction for transparency and professionalism in the lettings sector.

However, he predicts those that the measure apparently wants to penalise are likely to recoup financial losses by charging more to both tenants and landlords. 

Male attacks the industry, saying much of the traditional lettings sector will protest against the Bill, which this week continued its passage through the Lords.

“The fact of the matter is, they’ve made a rod for their own back through the exploitation of tenants via below the belt fee charging. Our … research found traditional letting agents were getting away with extortionate charges such as £200 to change a surname on an agreement, £40 if you weren’t married to your significant other or an additional £90 to move in on a Saturday” he claims.

“The unfortunate reality is that this isn't the solution and these bad apple agents will always find a way around the introduction of restrictive legislation” he adds.

“The silver lining is that tenants will at least have more stability and security around their financial commitments and won’t be at the mercy of immoral, out of the blue fee charges.”

Urban was recently part of a merger with Emoov and Tepilo.

Meanwhile the Tenants’ Fees Bill itself has completed its Second Reading in the House of Lords. 

Over a dozen Lords contributed to the debate, which was led by Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth for the government.

In a key passage of his introduction he told Peers about the fees issue:

“We are not just talking about rogue landlords and agents here—we know that well-known high street chains are charging both tenants and landlords for the same services. These charges create a further financial barrier in a system which is stacked against tenants, many of whom are trying to save to buy their own home. It is a problem right across the country. That is why we must intervene to create a level playing field. A ban on unfair fees ensures that whoever contracts the service—in this case the landlord—pays for that service. This is integral to a fair market and, more plainly, it is common sense. Some agents and landlords already operate successful business models without charging fees to tenants. Under the ban, tenants will be better placed to shop around for a property that fits their budget, safe in the knowledge that the price they see is the price they will pay.”

Poll: Are some fees really 'immoral' and 'below the belt'?

PLACE YOUR VOTE BELOW

  • John Gell

    Charging fees to tenants is indefensible and shows a fundamental lack of understanding of the law of agency. An agent is acting on the Landlord’s behalf in providing services to the tenant, and the agent’s fee to the landlord needs to reflect that. The landlord is the agent’s client and there is no agent/client relationship between agent and tenant.

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    Agent fees are actually anti-inflationery.

    Once they are gone then you are left with consumers who have more money in their pockets all competing for the same properties hence the price goes up.

    It has already happened in Scotland.

     
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    Agents do not charge tenants in the same way as they do Landlords they charge for arranging the tenancy in the same way a solicitor acts for a buyer Or seller in a house purchase or sale. There is no comparison to the letting process.

     
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    Are we supposed to do everything for the tenant for free then? To be clear we charge the landlord for photographing their property, preparing a floorplan, advertising on the main portals, ensuring it is compliant with gas certs, electric certs, EPC’s, and preparing the inventory. We charge the tenants for referencing, but for free we will do viewings (often out of hours) on the property, often multiple times. Once a tenant is in a property we are on call 24/7/365 and often do plenty for free. Many times they have left their house keys at work and we bring them our set to borrow, we regularly give advice, often on the most basic things, we will provide a reference for free for the new Letting agent and yet the government think we should not charge them 1p! The ONLY solution is for us to increase rents to compensate as we CANNOT do such a good job and retain our staff without tenant fees. We manage circa 500 houses and we are putting steps in place now to recover lost revenue for next year but the fact is we cannot write these charges off.

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    Correct .. you will always get comments from such who have no idea what’s involved in running a letting agency and delivering services to both sides. Tenants pay the ultimate end price it is just short sighted to think otherwise

     
  • Kathy Taylor

    This all started during the financial crash when sales agents decided to branch into lettings in order to survive. So keen to get as many rental properties on their books as quickly as possible their approach was to market cut price commission rates in order to poach landlord clients from well established and reputable letting agents. Clearly however, the 5% fully managed service that a lot of them were offering was completely unsustainable, so then came the gradual rise in tenant fees. These agents needed to generate additional income from somewhere in order provide the lettings service that they were advertising. To remain competitive established agents were forced to reduce their headline rates, the knock off effect being that their tenant fees also had to increase in order to plug the loss of management fee income that they were now suffering. It's my view that the blame for the tenant fee ban that we are all now faced with should sit firmly at the door of those sales agents who, back in the day, created the perception that letting property is an easy and cheap process when it is anything but!

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    The government need to be looking at capping fees not getting rid off them. If everyone wants a good service this will cost. I suppose the way the government is beating up landlords and agents from all angles, they don't care. Unfortunately lots of job losses loss of service and some estate agents will go . The tenants are a protected species no matter what . Vote winner.

  • S l
    • S l
    • 12 October 2018 12:56 PM

    Then the government should increase housing portfolio and do everything for free for tenants, not landlords, private or corporate. but where do you think the government and council is going to hit next? yes, oh yes the taxpayer. dont forget, the tenants are taxpayer too just like landlords. when lack of housing in private sector comes along, the government will have to pull up their socks and provide the much needed housing. landlords are only helping the governments housing issues. tenants are very much a rogue group as many often will jump at the offer to not pay rent or pay anything else for that matter. if tax goes higher, more goes into benefit system. claiming they are cutting down benefits is not going to help in the long shot. as many refused to work harder, to save money because the government are making policies to help the lazy ones and more people rather spend their money so that they get free help and free money. its just the way things are being done in uk

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    I think that charging landlords 3% stamp duty is 'immoral and below the belt'!

  • S l
    • S l
    • 13 October 2018 08:40 AM

    definitely, they should be charging higher tax on those who are in employment and are tenants as after all the tenant policies are for them. If they refused to be frugal with money and save like everyone else who had to do it to pay for a house themselves, then it has to come out of their salary. not those who work hard and save hard for their families and homes. landlord had to work hard and save too to buy another house to rent. it could also be due to other reasons eg re location of work and family but not want to lose house as wanted to come back for retirement, family home, etc etc surely to protect the economy and capitalism, something should be done to help landlords. not just bashing them up for money each and every way eg by council tax, hmrc, policies etc etc. its all money money money. they should look at those who are in employment who are sitting there cosy with their paycheck end of every month which is not available to landlord who are taking a lot of maintenance costs and risk of non payment

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