A high-profile landlord says the upcoming ban on letting agent fees 'can't come soon enough'.
Writing a column in the Evening Standard's Homes & Property supplement, Victoria Whitlock says she does not 'think the ban itself will harm landlords'.
The landlord, who lets four properties in South London, quotes the government's recent impact assessment which estimated that the ban will cost agents in excess of £157 million in its first year of operation.
"According to [the impact assessment], most [landlords] don’t charge tenants fees and those who do typically charge £25-£107," she writes.
Whitlock then goes on to discuss the prospect of agents charging landlords higher management fees in order to replace lost revenue when the ban is introduced.
"I think it’s unlikely agents will increase their fees significantly as landlords can easily take their business elsewhere."
"In fact, I think one of the reasons letting agents have been charging tenants so much is to compensate for a fall in commissions over the past few years," she says.
"Some landlords might be happy to pay their letting agents more if they think they’re doing a good job, but those of us who aren’t can always shop around. Unlike our tenants."
Whitlock says it's 'beyond cheeky' that agents 'charge tenants hundreds of pounds for services for which they're also charging me'.
She also details her daughter's experience of using a letting agent.
"I’m appalled that she and six of her friends had to hand over £1,400 to a letting agent to secure a house for next term."
"All the agent had to do was spend 15 minutes showing the girls round the house, so she earned the equivalent of £5,600 an hour."
"I’m also annoyed that the charge wasn’t properly explained to my daughter and her friends, who thought they were handing over a holding deposit, not a fee."
Whitlock explains that after pursuing the agent herself, she found out that it was a non-refundable fee, equivalent to 35% of a month's rent.
“Agents have been able to get away with such sky-high fees because tenants have no real choice over which ones they use,” says Whitlock, who then goes on to challenge ALRA Propertymark chief executive David Cox.
"[He] claims tenants will end up worse off. I’m not sure how he’s worked that out. My daughter and her mates would’ve been £1,400 better off with the ban."
She says that even if landlords do increase rents to combat increased costs, the ban on fees means tenants will be able to 'see from the start' what they are being charged and able to 'compare property prices more easily'.