Letting agents may go bust as illegal fees campaign takes offMake Text Bigger
Landlords are warned to check out that their letting agents protect their money as a new scheme helping tenants reclaim unfair fees threatens make some firms go bust.
Housing charity Shelter Scotland is leading the campaign against rip-off letting agents – and has helped more than 100 tenants start claims for the repayment of thousands of pounds of illegal charges.
On the first day of the campaign, 600 tenants contacted the charity, with 73 starting claims for repayment of £11,700.
Shelter is warning landlords that paying refunds could put a financial strain on some letting agents who do not have the cash reserves to settle grievances with tenants.
Letting agents outside a recognised money protection scheme like SafeAgent or ARLA (Association of Residential Lettings Agents) may close leaving landlords out of pocket.
Shelter Scotland says misinterpretation of the law under section 82 of the Rent (Scotland) Act 1984 of what should be classed as a premium and how to deal with agents who break the law is leaving thousands of people open to unfair treatment and financial exploitation.
The charity gives examples of the charges which could be considered premiums:
- Credit checks – fees for carrying out credit checks
- Reference checks – fees for carrying out reference checks
- Inventory fees – charges for checking and preparing an inventory
- Renewal fees – any administration charge to renew an existing tenancy
- Holding fees – any non-refundable holding fees or similar payments for the grant of a tenancy
- Copies of the lease – charges for duplicate copies of a lease
- Transfer fees – a payment to formally transfer or assign a tenancy to someone else
- Overpriced furniture – sale of furniture to a tenant for an excessive price
Graeme Brown, Director of Shelter Scotland, said: “Over 272,650 families and individuals in Scotland call the private rented sector home, and that number is rising.
“That some letting agents – established and new – are routinely ripping off tenants by charging extortionate and unjustified upfront fees is shocking and quite simply exploitative.
“They are not only ripping off people who need a roof over their head and who, in many cases, have little or no choice but to pay up, but they are also undermining the work of good letting agents who offer a fair deal to tenants.”
For more information about the campaign, visit the Shelter Scotland website
Please Log-In OR Become a member to reply to comments or subscribe to new comment notifications.