Michael Green is the founder of CaseHub.
Over the past six months, I have been working with some of the country’s leading barristers to put together a lawsuit that proves how most letting fees in England and Wales are unlawful.
The good news is that they agree.
We now need to take that case to court. The good news is that if it wins, renters will be entitled to get their letting fees back, and in future some of them might be stopped entirely.
The outcome would also bring about some much needed regulation, because it would set a precedent. The current government has discussed and dismissed the idea of regulating letting agency fees, so setting legal precedent is a good alternative.
The case is about extravagant, gratuitous and hidden fees that a lot of renters have paid. That includes:
- Agents charging for things which they should not, eg inventory, check-in and check out
- Overcharging for services, eg hundreds of pounds for "administration fees" which cover printing a standard-form contract, credit checks that cost £10-20 in reality; and renewing a contract which takes minimal time
- Double-charging both the tenant and landlord for the same service
- Introducing fees at the last minute, rather than being proactive and entirely upfront about them
I'm sure you're familiar with some of these practices; the news is that senior barristers think the practice is unlawful, and that presents tenants with an opportunity to come together and try to stop this.
The argument is that these fees and practices are unlawful under consumer law – that is, both the (former) Unfair Terms Regulations 1999 and Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008. The test case we have put together is against Foxtons, but the arguments and issues raised will be of relevance to most, if not all, letting agents who charge fees.
That’s where you come in. CaseHub is building up a long list of tenants who have paid letting fees – to Foxtons or otherwise – in order to bring the case to court.
It is completely free to sign up, and the more people who do, the greater the chance that CaseHub can get the case to court.
You can join the campaign and start getting updates over at CaseHub's website.