Should Letting Agent Fees Be Regulated? Belvoir Investigates
Should the fees letting agents charge prospective and current tenants be regulated? Should there be any fees charged to prospective or current tenants? A hot and emotive subject for many people.
A few facts
Every business even charities have overheads and expenses incurred during the operation of any business.Non charity businesses have to make a return on the shareholders investment or face going out of business.Regulation doesn’t stop unscrupulous people or businesses or people behaving in a criminal manner. These people/businesses will continue ignoring rules or operating in a manner that is unfair.Regulation provides the ability for someone to have a complaint listened to against a set of rules plus scope for compensation.There is no regulation in England over who can become a letting agent. There are various regulations that letting agents have to adhere to.Prospective renters do little or no checks about an agent or landlord before they select a property.Some possible outcomes if overbearing regulations come into operation
Market rents may increase if landlords have to pay higher fees. This is likely to cost long term renters more than the value of the upfront fees.The more vulnerable prospective renters are unlikely to benefit from intended protection through increased regulation as they often fail to qualify to rent through professional letting agencies and have little option but deal with unscrupulous landlords who fail to licence HMO’s and carryout illegal evictions.Overbearing regulations may result in a restriction of choice for prospective renters.Advice for Prospective Renters
Only rent a property from agents who are members of The Property Ombudsman (TPO). The TPO has a strict code of practice and will investigate complaints about agents practices.Only rent a property from a private landlord (not using an agent) who is an accredited landlord member of either the National Landlord Association or Residential Landlord Association. Any compliant about a landlord will be investigated by the association of which the landlord is a member. Take time to check with the agent or landlord what terms that have for initial and during tenancy charges before you sign up for a property. If you feel they are doing something unfair report it to Trading Standards.