Support for agents to be allowed to charge tenants at least some fees has come from an unlikely quarter – a tenants’ group.
The Tenants’ Voice, one of the UK’s biggest online communities for tenants, says: “Tenants will have to (and they probably will) accept paying some fees.”
In an article written for EYE and now published as a blog on its own site, the organisation says: “We’re not convinced that a total ban is the best and most fair solution.”
Instead it calls for a middle ground, and says that what is needed in the whole debate is “some good old common sense’.
Written by Aleksander Stoyanov, the even-handed piece delivers both sides of the argument.
It says that agents cannot be expected to work for nothing, and that they are not charity workers.
It goes on: “Similarly, tenants are not a stack of money waiting to be picked off the street. Agents cannot expect to charge whatever they want, just because tenants will do anything to get a good property. Sometimes, any property.
“Perhaps the bigger issue tenants face is not the amount of fees, but the fact that many tenants feel powerless and forced to pay money for services that they never receive and benefit from.”
The article says it is fair that tenants should pay for referencing, but goes on: “What is not fair is to demand a tenant to pay for new referencing for any new tenancy application regardless of any other circumstance.
“Here is a real situation shared some time ago by a tenant:
- The tenant applies for a property. Fees are collected, paperwork is prepared. The tenant is approved, everything is ready to go.
- Tenant comes in the property and it’s a complete wreck – dirt and litter everywhere, damage to the interior and some appliances not working.
- Obviously, they don’t move in and negotiate to be given another property.
- Agents says: ‘Perfect, we have another one for you. But you have to pay a new set of fees. It’s our policy and we can’t do anything about it.’
“What? Have the tenants’ background details changed in the last two days? It’s preposterous to think that a tenant will be happy to pay another £200 just because it’s the agent’s policy.
“And obviously, if they go to another agent, they will never accept using the referencing already been done. They will just charge another £200.
“And that’s a problem. If the tenant is paying for a product – a background report – they must be given ownership of that report.
“Agents should also work out a common standard for this report, so that it can be used across agents.
“Currently, tenants are not even given a copy and denied access when they ask.”
The article criticises tenancy renewal fees as being far too expensive, but says that it is fair that tenants should share the cost of inventory reports with the landlord.
Tenants with special requirements, such as needing a guarantor or a home that will take a pet, should pay for additional work done by the agent.
But, says the piece, while agents are entitled to make money, they should realise that “some fees are fair, some are absurd. Agents should back off a little.”
Its advice? “If you want a steady ride, don’t over-inflate your tyres.”
The Tenants Voice says its aim is to educate tenants on their rights and responsibilities; defend those rights when necessary; and to promote cooperation and mutual respect as the key tools in a healthy relationship between tenants and landlords.
The full article is https://www.thetenantsvoice.co.uk/