Petition against letting agent fees gathers over 250,000 signatures

A petition against letting agent fees has now gathered some 250,000 signatures.

It has been organised by Vicky Spratt, from young women’s online publication the Debrief.

Earlier this week, Spratt appeared on The BBC’s Daily Politics show, presenting a a two-minute film explaining why she thinks the rental market is broken, and calling for people to support the petition. This was followed by a three-minute discussion with presenter Jo Coburn, Labour MP Chris Bryant and Conservative MP Nadhim Zahawi.

Spratt yesterday told EYE: “All fees should be banned. Tenants can use websites like Spare Room to get in direct contact with property owners.

“The fees are meaningless. It’s money for old rope. Tenants can do their own assured shorthold tenancy agreements.”

Letting agents fees are banned in Scotland and Spratt said she wants the rest of the UK to follow suit.

She said: “On the show Mr Zahawi said that banning fees will just lead to an increase in rents but there is no evidence of that happening in Scotland. There was a small increase immediately after the ban but prices in Scotland have not risen significantly more than in other parts of the UK.”

In fact, this week Your Move said that rents in Scotland had plunged in the sharpest month-on-month fall in Scottish rents on record.

In her piece for Daily Politics, Spratt also warned that home ownership for young people is “now little more than a pipe dream”.

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27 Comments

  1. MF

    ” She said: “On the show Mr Zahawi said that banning fees will just lead to an increase in rents but there is no evidence of that happening in Scotland. There was a small increase immediately after the ban but prices in Scotland have not risen significantly more than in other parts of the UK.” ”

    There was a small increase immediately after the ban……… 

    So, there is evidence of that happening in Scotland then.

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    1. pierce

      Beat me to it MF!

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      1. MF

        🙂

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  2. pierce

    “On the show Mr Zahawi said that banning fees will just lead to an increase in rents but there is no evidence of that happening in Scotland. There was a small increase immediately after the ban but prices in Scotland have not risen significantly more than in other parts of the UK.”

    So which is it? Either rents did rise or they didn’t? Most rent rises take into account inflation so if they rose immediately after the “Law Was Clarified”, then the subsequent rises by percentage will rise quicker.

    Typical propaganda type reporting

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  3. clarky46

    Want a loan? pay fees Want a mortgage? pay fees Why? Because all those institutions want to know you are creditworthy and ‘good’ for it.

    Rent your most valuable asset to someone and they are suggesting that the tenant should just be taken on face value. It’s not just producing an AST it’s all the referencing and admin that goes with it. There will always be an agent prepared to overcharge but I’d be interested to know what everyone actually charges.

    We are £180.00 for the first applicant, £75.00 for the second & subsequent or guarantor. £150.00 holding fee that becomes part of the rent deposit on entry.

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    1. Chads62

      We are just south of Sheffield and charge £195 for the first applicant and £65 for any other applicant including guarantors.  No holding fee paid but deposit paid in full within 2 days of passing referencing otherwise property readvertise.

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    2. Mark Walker

      £150 single, £250 couple, £50 guarantor – all published on the web and in our shop.

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      1. Steve From Leicester

        £195 for the first applicant, £45 per additional applicant.

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    3. Oldtimer

      Regardless of the lady’s dubious assertions above a little research around the country shows massive variations in fees. Some are frankly OTT and one can only conclude agents are often charging what the market will stand rather than a fee that reflects the cost of the work. I know I have worked in both wealthy and poorer areas.

      Whilst there is nothing wrong with ‘market forces’ the writing is on the wall both from new (mainly online) entrants to the market place and from the regulatory side. So I say lets apply some common sense while we have the chance and take advantage of new tech to reduce costs and pass that on saving to our customers, otherwise market  forces will take away your business however much you scream and shout about what a ‘proper’ service entails. In this digital age you dont have to look far to see any business that is basically an agent/broker has either virtually disappeared or had to change massively.

      Since you ask we charge under £100 to set up the tenancy and £25 per tenant for credit checks, both incl VAT. we are a ‘traditional’ high street agency but we dont have new BMW’s.

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    4. fluter

      In sleepy South Wales we charge £210 for one app, extra £90 for additional apps. These fees effectively act as a holding deposit as it shows commitment. Very few tenants have money taken from their bonds at the end of their tenancy due to effective management throughout the term. I wonder how many tenants will find themselves losing their bond if they deal direct with landlords as Vicky Spratt suggests?

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    5. AmyT0101

      £210 for single, £300 for joint, £120 per applicant after that. £60 student, £60 Guarantor. All inclusive of VAT.

      No admin fees afterwards like most agents in our area charge…

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    6. MF

      West London. £100 plus £75 per applicant.

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    7. smile please

      £285 first applicant that covers everything (including holding fee,lease, check in, ref etc) £60 after per applicant or guarantor.

      £30 for renewal.

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    8. mrharvey

      £800 for first person, £1200 for next, plus 50% handling fee plus whatever else I need to buy beers that night.

      Frankly I’m sick and tired of all these crooks giving honest businessmen like me a bad name.

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    9. tev43

      Can we not forget the tenant is going to be paying a hefty monthly ‘fee’ for the indefinite future, to be shared between agent and landlord, called rent?

      The tenant is signing up to pay enough already. The agent works for the landlord not the tenant. The landlord should pay the agent’s fees.

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  4. sanjeev

    Wow. She had a whole two minutes for her presentation. Sounds like yet again She has done a lot of research on this. NOT.

    So let’s have the tenant do the own agreement. Let them choose if they want 6/12 or 18 months. Let’s them places in the AST if they wish to place a deposit, he’ll let’s go the whole hog here and let them secure the deposit and get them to give themselves the prescribed information and let them do their own credit checks,employers ref and landlord ref. All makes sense.

    Get real s(Pratt )

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  5. smile please

    Bit late for April fools ……. or is it just a fool.

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  6. Peter

    “The fees are meaningless. It’s money for old rope. Tenants can do their own assured shorthold tenancy agreements.”

     

    Hey, you don’t even need a written tenancy agreement! Not the professional way of doing business though, but who cares.

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  7. danny

    I have prepared a two minute film on why I shouldn’t have to pay mortgage interest or tax on petroleum and why I shouldn’t have to pay the cost of preparing coffee in Costa therefore it should be cheaper …lets manipulate a market place again, what can go wrong

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  8. Steve From Leicester

    QUOTE: “All fees should be banned. Tenants can use websites like Spare Room to get in direct contact with property owners.”

     

    There’s your answer Ms Spratt. Its a free market and a competitive one. If you object so much to paying letting agent fees rent your next home through Spare Room.

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  9. Russell Williams

    It’s not surprising that there are these demands though, is it, when separate fees are banned in Scotland, which is of course part of the UK.  It mirrors the arguments over student loans (ie they’re not needed in Scotland, as fees are all covered by the government)?

    If there was a law saying coffee shops north of the border were not allowed to charge for their coffee (relating to a comment above), then I’m pretty sure lots of people south of the border would be pretty disgruntled.

    We had plenty of time to get our shop in order.  If we’d all clarified our fees when Scotland clarified the law, or at the very least when the display of fees became mandatory in England, then we’d have a much stronger leg to stand on.

     

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  10. SJEA

    I think many of these people think that we are a housing association and not a business !

    As many have quoted, if you do not wish to pay fees for referencing there are many other options available.

    You will find that the Landlords that use Agents tend to offer better quality property and therefore want better quality tenants. Poor tenants are quickly put off applying for a property when they realise that they are paying to be references to be done. This therefore acts as a filter for better tenants.

    We charge £150 for first applicant and £30 for second/guarantor.

    The press repeatedly quote fees of thousands £, yet do not explain the breakdown to include rent in advance and bond, of which the bond is normally refunded !!

    Why do ARLA and the NAEA not get the same press coverage defending why we charge fees ?

     

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  11. pierce

    Hold the front page!

    Things are starting to move in the right direction!

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  12. Clarkuk

    Isn’t it the landlords who decide who they use and want to use?

    They use a company that they know, like and trust and if the company charges fees then that’s what the landlord wants. If they want the best tenants then that’s what they have to do.  It’s like asking all agents to charge what an online agent charges.  We aren’t a charity, there are plenty of these out there if that’s what you need.

    If a renter really want to rent a particular house in a particular area then they will have to PAY for it.  renting a property is not a right its a privilege.

    If someone will pay more for a property and you cant afford it then you cant rent it.  If I didn’t have any fees I’d move every 6-12 months and create more work for the landlords and agents alike. How will this help anyone on this side of the business?

     

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  13. singlelayer

    We are £200 per property, regardless of how many tenants and includes the guarantor checks too.

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  14. TheGreyAgent

    Looking at these figures above we’re not a million miles away from each other are we? I know its only a very small selection out of the 1000’s of agents in the UK but I’d bet the average across the country wouldn’t change by a lot.

    The only way to stop this is for the government to step in and set a cap on fees, roughly in the region of what we see above. If that happens then Ms Spratt and her ilk are stopped dead in their tracks. The ridiculously high fees that some agents charge would be knocked back and we could hopefully regain some public support.

    As crazy as it will sound to many, the biggest issue would be getting enough agents together to ASK Government to implement such a change!

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  15. Neill30

    I have read the replies with interest, and I write a genuine and qualified property professional, and as a tenant. I am a surveyor, and a chartered building engineer. I have stated ‘property professional’, as all too many people claim ‘property professional’, when they are not qualified. This is typified on TV, when the presenter on property programmes introduces ‘a property professional’. Most of them are not property professionals. We need a system of licencing, as other countries do. Anyone can claim the title, or call themselves an estate or letting agent

    I support the petition to ban letting fees. My experience of the private lettings sectors has been exceptionally poor. I have been served three s21s in three years, for no reason other than the property being sold. Each time I have had to pay admin fees, and other costs. Is this justification? The private rental industry is broken, agents do encourage landlords to serve a section 21, as they make their profit from the fees, and are able to set a higher rent each time. The referencing does not work, as all too many tenants are problem tenants, which escapes the credit referencing system anyhow. And, the cost of an electronic reference check is very considerably less than that set by agents.

    The analogy has been made to buying coffee. How would people feel if they had to pay a fee just to enter the café, before even buying a coffee? As, when they go to Tesco, they pay a fee to enter the supermarket. These are big boys in the coffee and supermarket business, they make a profit, keep customers happy, and still make a profit. The rental industry needs to wake up, and to be professional. Much of private renting is not truly profitable in a commercial context, too many accidental landlords exist, who are persuaded by agents to rent a house that they cannot sell. The agent makes a profit, but the landlord may struggle, and exposes themselves to a significant risk of damage to the property, that no private company would be prepared to take on.

    I expect some comments back, and that if people are defensive, then that does show how broken the rental industry is.

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