The issue of lettings agent fees is back in parliament next week with an amendment to the Consumer Rights Bill that would make it an offence to charge fees to tenants.
We have been raising the gross unfairness of letting fees throughout the passage of the bill, and now there is another chance for politicians to do something about it.
As any renter will know, however pernicious an unclear or surprise fee is, the central issue remains the huge cost that fees impose on tenants, who have no other choice. Not only are these fees completely disproportionate to the services rendered, they are also charged to captured consumers – renters cannot use their consumer power to bargain down fees when they are looking to rent, because they are stuck with the agent that comes with the property.
In an unstable tenure like the private rented sector, renters are hit with huge costs every time they move, and there’s very little they can do about it. The other party in the transaction – the landlord – is in a much better position to use market forces to make fees fair, because they can choose which agent to go with. Given this, and the fact that the agent is in fact working for the landlord, fees should only be levied on the landlord.
This change would also end the double-charging of fees which is unacceptable and even illegal in so many other industries but still prominent within private renting.
We know this amendment make sense, and that it would make a real material difference to the millions of renters having to rent a property each year. But at this late stage in the House of Lords, we need to keep the pressure on the Minister responsible, Vince Cable, and let him know that we need to end fees for tenants once and for all.
Please take a moment to write to Vince Cable, the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, telling him that government should ban this rip-off of private renters.
We can’t continue to allow lettings agents to squeeze us. Let’s take this chance to finally end these exploitative fees.
If you're on twitter, please check out this list of members of the House of Lords and ask some of them to ban letting agent fees.