Proposed Letting Agent’s Fee Ban

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Following is our response to yesterday’s Autumn Statement from the Chancellor, Philip Hammond. We would welcome your views on the proposed ban on letting agents fees.

Important Tenant Information

As many people will be aware, the Government has announced a review of fees chargeable to tenants at the start of a new tenancy, which may result in a total ban on fees chargeable.

We at Devon Sales and Lettings have always believed that there should be a cap on the amount of fees payable by tenants, and that all lettings companies should be regulated and licensed.

It has long been perceived that letting companies unfairly charge tenants all sorts of fees when they rent a property, as well as fees during the tenancy including tenancy renewal fees and also additional fees at the end of the tenancy, and the tenant in a lot of situations were not made aware of the fees in advance or that the fees are excessive. We agree that this can occur and that some rogue agents do charge unreasonable fees to the tenant who sometimes do not have any option but to pay them. This is unfair, and needs to be addressed.

We hope that this review will result in all letting agents being regulated and that all letting companies have to take out client money protection and become members of a redress scheme or professional body, to avoid tenants being ripped off or taken advantage of.

Devon Sales and Lettings are licensed members of the Association of Residential Estate Agents, The Property Ombudsman, The Dispute Service and have client money protection, professional indemnity insurance and comply with a strict code of conduct. Being members of these various bodies costs considerable amounts of money but we feel that it is worth it to protect both tenants and landlords and offer them peace of mind that they are dealing with a reputable company.

We disclose all of our fees prior to a tenant committing themselves to a new tenancy. In addition, we do not charge tenancy renewal fees at the end of the fixed term and there are no additional fees during the tenancy or at the end of the tenancy.

We believe that our upfront charges, represent a fair reflection of the costs involved to set up the tenancy, which include £48 (including VAT) per person for in depth reference and credit checks, £96 (including VAT) in total for preparation of the actual tenancy agreement, a long and complex legal document, that solicitors often charge several hundred pounds to prepare and a share of the costs for preparing the inventory depending upon the size of the property. The inventory is a detailed report of the condition of the property at the start of the tenancy, which is needed to comply with the rules of The Deposit Protection Regulations, (another important piece of legislation that was introduced to protect tenants deposit, but which ultimately did lead to extra costs for us and the landlord and tenant) but protects both the tenant and the landlord.

Devon Sales and Lettings have been trading for 21 years and obviously have had difference of opinions with both landlords and tenants over the years but many of our tenants have gone on to become landlords in future years and some of our landlords have been clients since we first started trading, which we believe reflects the honest and fair approach we endeavour to take in all our dealings with landlords and tenants alike.

We hope that this review therefore will result in two outcomes, regulation of all letting agents; and a cap on tenant fees. Ultimately the Governments review of fees may result in an outright ban on letting agent’s fees to tenants and we appreciate that not many people are going to lose much sleep over that. However, we think that could result in costs being passed to the tenants in higher rents and will do little if anything to help protect tenants from rogue unregulated agents or rogue landlords.

For a fair and professional tenancy service contact us to see how we can help.