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Tenants asked to pay to view properties.
According to the Victoria Derbyshire programme on BBC some letting agents have been asking prospective tenants to pay to view properties.
Is this another thing landlords are going to be blamed for?
Melanie Onn, Labour housing spokeswoman said: “Letting agents as well as landlords should be properly regulated. Of the 8,000 letting agents we’ve got around the country, only about half of those are voluntarily signed up to a code that means that they will operate to the highest professional standards. That means that half of them are not.”
David Smith, Policy Director of the RLA, told the BBC:”Asking somebody for money, without being able to see what that contract is about, to do a viewing, would quite likely to be seen by professional people in the property sector as unreasonable and unfair behaviour.
“It is therefore likely to be an offence under the consumer protection from unfair trading regulations.”
The Letting Agent in question, Flintons, denies the accusation that it was charging for viewing.
However, in the programme two friends said they were each charged a £300 ‘deposit’ to view a room by Flintons, but they soon realised something was wrong.
Flintons told Letting Agent Today: “We deny any allegation that prospective clients are asked to pay a holding deposit to be able to have a viewing. A holding deposit is only taken where a prospective client wishes to exclusively reserve a property for themselves and the property is then taken off the market and not offered to any other person.
“Whilst we have been informed of 3 instances where prospective clients had raised complaints, we provided suitable responses and believe that we demonstrated that the version of events that the complainants had provided were not entirely accurate and there was clear knowledge that any deposit taken was non-refundable. As the BBC have confirmed, all had signed holding deposit forms clearly stating that the deposit was non-refundable as it states at the beginning of the document and is clearly visible and is not something that can be missed or overlooked. It is not accepted that they were given the form after payment had been taken nor was there any assurance that the holding deposits were refundable.
“We note that the BBC also undertook an undercover investigation where they used undercover reporters to look into our practices. They have confirmed that their undercover reporters were clearly told that any deposit would be non–refundable prior to any funds being requested when they showed an interest in a property. This we say clearly supports our position.
“We confirm that we are an agency that assists numerous clients and the complaints raised only form a very small percentage of people who have engaged with us and the vast majority of our clients are happy with the service that we provide. Notwithstanding our position, we have reviewed our procedures and have provided further training to staff and have also now amended our holding deposit form to further highlight that the deposit is non-refundable if a prospective client changes their mind.”
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