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.”