11:01 AM, 12th April 2023, About 11 months ago 31
A controversial appearance by Labour MP Diane Abbott on ITV’s ‘Good Morning Britain’ led to claims that landlords are ‘charging tenants to view’ a property.
But when Ms Abbott was asked by Property118 for evidence to back up this claim, there has been no response.
The claim starts with co-presenter Richard Madeley asking Ms Abbott about landlords charging potential tenants to view a home.
Ms Abbott replied: “They are now charging just to look at a property, some of them are charging a relatively small amount, £30, but some of them are charging hundreds of pounds.”
Fellow presenter Kate Garraway highlighted that a journalist on the show had investigated and could find no evidence that landlords are charging potential tenants to view a property.
She added that the law now makes the paying of these fees illegal and asked Ms Abbott what evidence she had.
Ms Abbott said her ‘evidence’ was anecdotal and there was no evidence from tenant surveys.
However, she doubled down on the allegation and said, ‘a lot of estate agents’ are saying that tenants are being charged and ‘this is something that needs to be cracked down on’.
Ms Abbott continued: “One of the things a Labour government would do is to bring in a renters’ charter and one of the things that would say is in no circumstances can landlords charge just to view a property.”
Ms Garraway highlighted that the law already prevents this from happening, so Labour would not have to bring in a new law to deal with the issue.
Ms Abbott replied: “But it doesn’t seem to be biting, does it? Because you hear too much anecdotal evidence, certainly in London, of people charging to view.”
The only evidence that Property118 could find was one platform for agents offering to arrange viewings at £30 each – to ‘guarantee’ a viewing. The platform is no longer available.
And in 2018, a BBC investigation found that a London letting agent was charging £300 per viewing.
We could find nothing about agents or landlords who are charging potential tenants to view a property since the Tenant Fees Act came in.
However, a Which? investigation in February highlighted various scams online with fraudulent listings on SpareRoom – a flat-sharing site – highlighted that some tenants are being asked to pay to view a property which would be refunded if they turned up. SpareRoom said it responds quickly to these scam attempts.
David Oliver, the compliance manager at Propertymark, told us: “Agents charging fees to view private rented properties goes against the Tenant Fees Act 2019, so not only is it illegal but is highly immoral and something no agent should be practising.
“Members of the public should be aware that if they do know of an agent who is doing this, they should report them to the redress scheme they are registered to which legally has to be displayed on the agents’ website.
“They should also report this to the agent’s local authority as its trading standards department enforces the Tenant Fees Act legislation.”
Indeed, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government’s guidance on the Tenants Fees Act makes clear:
What payments are not permitted under the ban?
Can I ask a tenant to pay a fee to view a property?
No. You cannot charge for this as viewing a property is part of the process connected with granting a tenancy.
And since Property118 could find no evidence that landlords are charging potential tenants to view a property, we contacted tenant organisations about poor landlord and agent practices.
Both Generation Rent and Acorn, which represents tenants, did not reply to our requests for information.
We also contacted Diane Abbott’s office for comment about her claims on Good Morning Britain and proof – even if anecdotal – of landlords asking for payment to view a property. There has been no reply.
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