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Agents may hit landlords with new costs to cover fees loss, warns Spencer

TV property pundit Phil Spencer, who now runs property advice site MoveIQ, says letting agents may introduce new administration fees on landlords in a bid to recoup income lost through the upcoming ban on charging fees to tenants.

Writing in The Guardian, Spencer is sharply critical of what he calls some “egregious” fees levied on tenants by agents, which have been unfair and have created the need for a ban. 

“While some fees provide reassurance to landlords, others – such as spurious charges for drawing up “cut and paste” tenancy agreements – merely line the pockets of letting agents” he says.


“The fees are a symptom of a system which is tilted in favour of property owners and their agents, rather than tenants. Take credit checks for example. Landlords, quite understandably, like to know a would-be tenant’s credit history. But letting agents like to charge applicants, rather than landlords, for the privilege. Running an online credit check can cost just a few pounds, yet many agents charge more than £50” Spencer continues.

“So good riddance to such egregious charges – it’s just a shame that it has taken so long for the ban to come into force.”

Spencer acknowledges that the ban comes at a particularly awkward time for agents.

“It is an industry built on volume – it needs a steady throughput of new tenancies to keep the money coming in. The current slowdown in the market, and the slowing pace of rent increases, are already squeezing margins” he admits.

In a competitive market such as that for letting agents, it is difficult to on the one hand absorb extra costs or, on the other hand, increase fees and risk losing landlord clients.

“The pressure will be particularly acute on the high street where agents have higher overheads than their online rivals. There are about 16,000 branches around the country, many single-office operations which could be forced to merge with rivals to survive. Even the bigger agents, listed on the stock market, will face pressure from shareholders over what they are doing to protect their profit margins” he warns.

He says ultimately letting agents may impose the sort of admin fees on landlords that until now they have done on tenants, he warns.

You can see the entire article here.

  • S l
    • S l
    • 29 January 2019 09:36 AM

    Spencer obviously missed the memo that letting agent she also do charge landlords for where they are responsible for it. I failed to see any logic in his arguments that landlord should pay for tenner reference. Not all tenant pass the reference n many don't, if tenant want to rent, burden is on them to convince the landlord they are good tenants but unfirtunately majority are not despite the best efforts of experience n likeminded companies. Landlord often not bother to sue tenant as no forwarding address n it's a futile effort n loss of more money as it is highly unlikely to be recoverable as they just prey on the next unsuspecting landlord as there are no database on rogue tenants

    Andrew Hill

    Fee ban means we can't charge tenants anymore. Those legitimate business expenses must be recovered from the landlord which in turn landlords will recover from increased rents.

  • icon

    Dear s I
    It's about time you went back to school to learn how to spell correctly. You use childish abbreviations and you do not have a grasp of the language.
    You are not one I would put faith in to look after my most valuable asset due to your fundamental lack of command of a language you absolutely MUST understand to be able to keep up with legislation. When laws and procedures change you do not read them in the poor quality of your written diatribe above but they are written in the Queens English. But I doubt you would understand anything I have noted here.
    You have clearly demonstrated to everyone who reads these comments you are lacking in what you should have between your ears.

    S l
    • S l
    • 30 January 2019 10:43 AM

    i do know how to spell, thank you very much but i do not have time to double check the auto spelling that keep coming into the screen. i do keep uptodate which is what we all do and unlike you we do not undermine others due to their own ignorance like yours. didnt know that racism is in the card as much as arrogance

  • icon

    But those 'cut and paste' agreements still take time to check through, make sure that they have all of the correct clauses in, and then answer any questions that the Tenant may have. It's not just a 2 minute job.
    Some Agents have charged ridiculous amounts, but I don't see why asking for a fair contribution from the Tenant is a problem.

  • S l
    • S l
    • 30 January 2019 10:53 AM

    well done, country lass, unfortunately they do not appreciate the skills and knowledge required to check through legal documents and still expect to have it for free. The letting agents are effectively doing what a solicitor would charge a lot more to do the same. perhaps the law should be amended to the extend that tenant to get the contract drafted up by their own solicitors instead and pay for it themselves. that should stop any issues of agreement charges to start with. referencing, tenant to get reputable agencies to do it and email to letting agents or landlord, viewing? well there got to be charges for that from tenant if they want someone to open door for them at their convenience to view various properties, fees to tenant often are justified for the work letting agent have to do for them, inventories are charge to landlord anyway. so if there is any other issues on any other fees not mention above, just deal with it individually and they will see that it is reasonable charges. If its overcharge, then tenant can go elsewhere. they dont have to take it up and then file a complain. Likewise, when you go shopping, if you dont like the price, you dont buy it and then complain do you?


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