Who is the Letting Agent acting for when arranging a tenancy and managing a property and could the ban on Letting Fees change this?
We are still waiting for confirmation from the government on the timescale for the ban on letting fees charged to tenants with some quoting 12 – 18 months and others saying it could be added to other legislation next year to speed the process.
Although the client of a Letting Agent is the landlord the fact that a tenant is paying them admin fees towards the arrangement of the tenancy I feel, and hopefully other agents also feel that they have some responsibility towards the tenants as they are also paying for a service.
I do hear from tenants that the letting agent they have or have had in the past hasn’t acted in their interest maybe in regards to repairs on a property or when it comes to the deposit being returned at the end of a tenancy. I feel that as we are paid by both the landlord and tenant we have a duty to both to work out the best outcome for both parties.
If it is the situation now that some agents currently act in the landlords best interest only and don’t represent the tenant who has paid them a fee, I fear that when the time comes and only the landlords are paying a fee to the letting agent many agents might decide to only represent the landlords interests.
The main argument about the fees charged relates to the extortionate fees and the hidden fees sometime charged by agents. I was surprised when carrying out a viewing yesterday at a property we are about to advertise that the tenants had been charged a fee by their current agent for something that wasn’t required. They have just finished a fixed term tenancy and the owner of the property wanted the tenancy to be a monthly rolling tenancy and not another 6 or 12 month fixed term. The agent who is based in Dunstable charged the tenants £30 each to do this, but as I explained to the tenants the fixed term tenancy automatically becomes a rolling monthly periodic tenancy when the fixed term ends. There is no need for a new tenancy and this is a case of an agent charging fees on tenants that are not required. Needless to say the tenants are going back to the agent to insist they have their money returned to them.
Daniel Bourke is the owner of Belvoir Lettings Dunstable and in his previous career in Architecture he was an Associate in a leading London Architectural practice