As part of the Autumn statement, the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced plans to ban Letting agents from charging fees to tenants ‘as soon as possible’.
The Department for Communities and Local Government have confirmed they will consult with experts including ARLA (Association of Residential Letting Agents) and letting professionals in the new year before any changes are brought in. Time will tell whether the ban will include the cos t of referencing and credit checks or just the administration fee. In order for this to become law, the bill will have to be passed by Parliament which is likely to delay matters for a significant period, even as long as into 2018.
At McGregor Letting Consultants, we currently charge tenants a fee (amongst the lowest locally) to cover costs incurred in processing a successful tenancy. We carry out a credit search and Right to Rent checks to fully comply with government legislation. We negotiate and draft tenancy agreements to satisfy both parties in the tenancy which means we prepare the contract for the Landlord and the Tenant.
Consider this, when buying a property, one will instruct a solicitor to carry out the necessary legal work, the lawyer’s charge is a significant cost in the buying process. A letting agent is responsible for the legal work for the Tenant as well as the Landlord when renting a property. To say it’s unfair to charge for this undermines the work of professional agents. There are letting agents who’ll just ‘bang out’ a standard AST (assured shorthold tenancy), however a qualified, specialist agent will draft contracts which include specific and complex clauses, often at the tenant’s request.
Fees should be capped, we agree with that. Rogue letting agents who run ‘pop up’ agencies out of a spare bedroom often exploit prospective tenants and charge extortionate rates. Like most ARLA agents, I strongly believe that letting agents should be regulated or licensed; after all when you let your property, you want it back in good shape. It’s far more important to choose your agent carefully when you’re letting a property than selling one as the agent’s role is so pivotal in the long term. Perhaps this Autumn statement will be the start of regulation across the industry and will result in greater protection for tenants, which is a much more important issue to be addressed.
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