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Agents challenge Labour MP: why not show us your evidence?

A Member of Parliament who says “the majority of agents” engage in “dirty tactics” when it comes to fees imposed on tenants has been challenged by an industry group - and by Letting Agent Today - to share what evidence he has for this claim.

Lloyd Russell-Moyle, MP for Brighton Kemptown, is reported by the local press in Brighton to have accused agents of charging tenants unnecessarily large fees.

The Brighton Argus says: Lloyd Russell-Moyle, MP for Brighton Kemptown, spoke in Parliament last month saying a large number of estate agents use “dirty tactics” to charge more fees from those who rent properties.  He said the Tenant Fees Bill should be revised to put a cap on deposits and letting fees.  He said in Parliament: “We’ve heard a lot of talk about it being a few agents, but I have been told it’s a large number of agents.  “I would go so far as to say the majority of agents do these dirty tactics and that’s why this bill is needed.”

Now the Brighton and Hove Estate Agents’ Association has asked Russell-Moyle to reveal his evidence. 

A statement from BHEAA president Tina Templeman - branch director of the Mishon Mackay agency in the town - says: “We saw Mr Russell-Moyle’s comments on Twitter and we believe it is unfair to label all landlords and estate agents as immoral and using ‘dirty tactics’.

“We, as an association, do not condone estate agents using underhand tactics. There is a stigma attached to agents and it’s not fair to paint everyone with the same brush. Our job is to maintain and promote high standards of the profession.

“We believe his comments are generalising.  All we ask is for him to share his data, or any specific research to prove his point.  If there is no research he can show us, then we ask for him to retract his statements.”

Over the weekend Letting Agent Today wrote to the MP, echoing a request to see the evidence on which he made his statement.

Russell-Moyle’s Wikipedia page describes him as “a supporter of the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn” and says that prior to first being elected to parliament in 2017 he was a local councillor and had worked at the National Youth Agency.

Poll: MPs should be prepared to release evidence to support their statements

PLACE YOUR VOTE BELOW

  • Andrew Hill

    The problem with politicians as it currently stands, the CMA rules about misleading practices doesn't appear to apply to them. They can lie through their teeth, as we have seen the Labour leader do on numerous occasions and when it's discovered that they've lied, we're told that we, as the public, are so dim we've misunderstood.

    Politicians are having a free for all against the sector because of the likes of Shelter and Tenant's Voice, all of whom want free rents, no tenant fees and for agents to kiss the toes of their tenants... OK, maybe not quite but it certainly isn't far off.

    Somebody yesterday started attacking us on social media because we're letting agents, not because of something we've done but because of the sector we work in; it's unfortunate there's a lot of agencies who promote good practices but on the other hand, there's a lot of massive agencies who do the opposite, such as Foxtons who refuse to prove their properties are safe or Spicerhaart who were convicted of managing unlicensed HMOs, not to mention all those agents recently who have done a bunk with their client's money.

    It doesn't help that Arla doesn't seem to have taken any action against these PropertyMark companies who have been convicted either, they still brandish the logo and as a result, still have customers unaware of their convictions coming to them to be treated the same way; poorly. This has a knock on effect on the whole industry.

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    Arla propertymark will not take these large agencies to task for fear of losing the huge revenue stream they generate from membership fees for the business.

     
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    Labour would do better to have a go at the "Councils Sector" who are proving themselves to be almost useless at overseeing lettings in their areas. From what I read the worst are large urban councils. Councillors constantly rubbish landlords but when landlords rubbish councillors they proudly stand up and tell us, as councillors, they are god like and we have no right to to tarnish their status as deities. They get away with it because they are elected by people who have the whole council's agenda in mind when they vote, not just property renting.

    There needs to be some statutory requirements placed on councils to understand property letting. In the past such acts have been created for such as burial of the dead and roads maintenance. These acts were introduced by governments desperate to make councils solve important problems they were constantly complaining about andthen blaming the government for their own ineptitude.

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    Councils are taking the EASY option of charging all law-abiding landlords to fund enforcement of the few 'dodgy' ones, instead of using the Civil penalties in the Housing and Planning Act.
    This isn't helped by a total lack of Leadership, management and Accountability not being imposed by MHCLG (most of who's policies are actually REMOVING accommodation from the availability to Tenants.

     
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    • S S
    • 11 June 2018 11:07 AM

    Being MP for Brighton, I'm not surprised that he feels that way - however WRONG he is. Unfortunately having experience of the Brighton Market - where my student daughter was charged by the letting agency for the "cleaning of 4 carpets" (the property only had 2!) at the end of the tenancy, along with the house being labeled as dusty - the inventory wasn't done until 6 weeks after they moved out. We fought it and threatened TPO - but the business model for student lets is in my opinion -"rip the students off as the parents will pay". Reputable letting agencies get tarnished with the same brush as the rogues and unfortunately despite regulation - the guys trying to do it right and paying for membership are harassed by regulators and the guys ripping people off never seem to get caught.

  • Billy the Fish

    I emailed L-loyd yesterday to challenge him and he actually replied!!! First time an MP has ever bothered so I have to give him that at least:

    Dear Julian,

    I regard any fee charged to the tenant to sign a contract as dirty tactic. The fee in my view must be charged to the landlord.

    If you charge £240 just to sign a pro-forma contract then you in my view are engaged in dirty tactics. Interestingly all parties agree with me and will legislate to make your dirty practice illegal.

    As I said in Parliament and you have confirmed with me in your email it’s not all, and large numbers are good letting agents (charge no fees, keep proprieties in good shape, don’t allow no fault evictions) but I’m afraid they are few and far between.

    In surveys that Brighton and Hove Council, housing campaigners and the Labour Part have done it shows that he’d “good” agents are in a minority and hence the need for the law to stop people bringing your profession into disrepute.

    I do hope we can work together but that starts from a base of saying that charging fees which is most cases are too high must stop. The select committee wrote a good report on this and I hope we accept their recommendations. I understand that in last 8 years this issue has been neglected but neglecting an issues doesn’t give a green light to dodgy behaviour like charging tenants fees or extraordinary high deposits.

    Yours

    Lloyd

    There were inaccuracies in his response from my initial email (EG we charge £210 not £240) and he has not yet replied to my next email which questions who carried out this survey, who did they survey and how did they check whether an agent was 'good' or 'bad'
    Who wants to bet I do/don't get a reply?

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