Contact us:
01508 493330

Latest News & Updates

← Back to News

Posted on June 7th 2017 by admin-movingin

ARLA attempts to defend letting agent fees in tense Radio4 debate

ARLA attempts to defend letting agent fees in tense Radio4 debate

Original Author: Marc Shoffman 

Original Source: Property Eye Industry 


ARLA Propertymark chief executive David Cox and tenant campaigner Vicky Spratt clashed a number of times during a Radio4 debate on the lettings fee ban yesterday.

Consumer affairs programme You and Yours, presented by Winifred Robinson, featured a case study of a tenant who had been quoted fees of half the monthly rent of £1,600, and asked Cox how agents could justify such charges.

Cox told Robinson that fees should be transparent and need to cover items like referencing, contract negotiation and inventories.

He said: “A survey of our members showed average fees were £202. Fees should be reasonable.”

Asked why the cost of referencing doesn’t reflect the amount that the credit agencies charge, Cox said: “Referencing costs all vary from agent to agent as with every business. It is not just the cost of the third-party referencing but the time taken to get all the necessary information.

“The referencing process can take up to eight hours on average.”

Spratt, deputy editor of The Debrief website, who launched a petition that eventually helped lead to the Government announcing its aim to ban tenant fees last year, then interjected, asking: “Shouldn’t the landlords be paying for that?

“The landlord is the one making a profit. A tenant makes nothing out of renting a house, while a lettings agent is working for the landlord. An agent is filling the property for them.”

She also pointed out that it is the landlord’s mortgage getting paid off, plus they get to keep anything extra at the end of each month.

Spratt told the programme that letting agents had informed her that they were double charging and warned that in some cases the landlords were unaware of this. She also complained that when she tweeted that tenant fees were unfair, one agent simply replied that “we charge because we can” along with a series of laughing emojis.

Asked if she thought rents would rise if, as expected, the tenant fee ban is introduced, Spratt said there was no evidence that this would happen, claiming this was not the case in Scotland since the country banned fees.

But Cox disagreed with this, claiming rents rose 4.2% in Scotland in the year after the ban.

He said: “If we look at the Scottish Government’s own statistics, rents across the country rose by 4.2% and were 0.2% down in England at the same time.”

Responding, Spratt stated: “We have discussed these figures before.

“Rents at that time were rising, particularly in cities. That is not inconsistent with what we were seeing across the UK because of the housing shortage.”

Cox went on to insist these were official statistics rather than his own members, adding that the Office for Budget Responsibility had also warned that rents would rise as a result of this policy.

The segment was then closed by Robinson after just under ten minutes to move on to the next subject of self-help books.


Property Industry Eye Logo