This morning we have published six more areas on www.lettingfees.co.uk – Manchester, York, and four more London boroughs – Bromley, Camden, Lambeth and Wandsworth.
Flathunters in those areas can check to see which letting agents are charging the least, and which charge the most. These areas join four already in London, and bring the total number of letting agents covered by our website past 700.Read more
If you happen to be planning a move to (or within) the London boroughs of Croydon, Ealing, Tower Hamlets or Waltham Forest, then we might be able to save you a few hundred quid.
Volunteers in these areas have compiled a comprehensive list of local letting agents and their tenant fees at www.lettingfees.co.uk.
Tower Hamlets Renters have used their research to name and shame local agentsRead more
If you're thinking of moving to the north east London borough of Waltham Forest, be sure to check what letting fees you'd have to pay with each agent. Our friends at Waltham Forest Renters have published a list of all the area's letting agents and what fees they display online. A two-person household could find themselves paying between £150 and £792 depending on who they pick. The story has been picked up in the local press and by Londonist.
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.Read more
Newham Council has claimed to be the first local authority in the country to tackle letting agents who are flouting the law.
An initiative by the council to tackle poor practice by lettings agents and protect tenants has helped to improve standards in the profession with the majority of agents now complying with the law.Read more
In June, the Department for Communities and Local Government launched a new guide for private rented sector tenants titled How to rent: the checklist for renting in England. With this guide the government want to give the country’s 9 million tenants access to understandable information for renting property in England.
Eric Walker is Managing Director of Northwood UK and tweets at @justericwalker
We in the property industry have more common ground with the likes of Generation Rent and Shelter than many would think. Professional agents do an immense job and provide a valuable service to help protect consumers from the small minority of rogue agents. MPs call for regulation every day, yet the only group which can change the law is in fact the politicians who refuse to do so.
This Government wants agents to regulate themselves. Their reason is in no small part due to the horrors which would be uncovered if agents were forced to regulate. Clients' money should be held in a ‘ring-fenced’ client account, but while this may protect money from creditors, it is not ring-fenced from the agent. If their business is struggling, there is little point in seeking bank assistance and as such, clients' money is a very tempting resource.
Nearly half of private renters feel they have been ripped off by their landlord or letting agent, according to a poll commissioned by Ocean Finance (reported by Mortgage Introducer).
The biggest problem, cited by around half of unhappy renters, was the delay - or, indeed, complete failure - to get repairs carried out. This was followed by withholding of the deposit at the end of the tenancy (37%), or making unreasonable deductions from it (25%). Unreasonable rent rises and rip-off admin fees at the start of the tenancy affected around 23% of respondents.
These findings support work Generation Rent is already doing to improve the lives of renters. Only yesterday we published a consultation on new ways to help tenants recover their deposits.
We are also calling on politicians to strengthen tenants' rights when requesting repairs by protecting them from revenge evictions. Our proposals for a long term tenancy would ensure that landlords couldn't impose inflation-busting rent increases, while we argue that letting agents - who work for landlords - should not be able to pass on fees to tenants. Further information is in our Renters Manifesto.
Yesterday I was asked a surprisingly difficult question. I was asked what I thought of charities and local authorities setting up "ethical" letting agencies. The fact is I haven't given huge amounts of thought to it - though our office is maintaining a watching brief on their activities and seeing what can be learnt.
So I had to retreat to an instinctive (and unpopular) no. It seems inconceivably that the state or non-profit sector could or should compete in this space cost effectively. We're glad they do so as they are a rare respite for people who are routinely exploited, but on being scrutinised on the issue, I just couldn't see how they could be scaled to have a beneficial impact for millions of people.
I have had a think now, and while I did so fully prepared to explain why I had been wrong and have changed my mind, I haven't. I really don't think such projects are a solution to the letting agency problem. But as a representative of a tenant advocacy group, this does bear some explaining.Read more
We've had a number of requests to publish the list of how MPs voted in the failed bid to outlaw letting agent fees to tenants. You can see the full list here.
This campaign isn't dead though. We'll be working with enlightened Peers to bring this back in the Lords. Unlike MPs, Lords don't get their letting agent fees paid on expenses so we're expecting more support.