Letting agents breaking existing laws on tenant fees
As the buy-to-let sector holds its breath for the introduction of the Tenant Fees Act on June 1, letting agents have been accused of “disregarding” existing rules and “deliberately misleading tenants”.
Tenant lobby group Generation Rent said the “scale of malpractice” in the sector was “shocking” and called for tighter enforcement of the law after they found 21 agents failing to display fees, while others were accused of coercing tenants.
The Consumer Rights Act requires letting agents to display the fees they charge in their branches and on their websites or risk a penalty of £5,000.
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In the run-up to the introduction of the Tenant Fees Act, which will place further rules on the charges letting agents and landlords can charge, Generation Rent invited tenants to inform them of unlawful behaviour on its Report an Agent page.
They found attempts by letting agents to pressure new tenants to sign up to expensive no-deposit schemes and asking existing tenants to renew their contracts before June 1 so they can collect the fees before the ban comes into force.
One agent compared the fee ban to being “like Brexit”, telling the tenants it was being delayed and was likely not to happen.
Georgie Laming, a Campaigner at Generation Rent, says: “The scale of malpractice from the lettings industry is shocking. Failing to display fees is in breach of the Consumer Rights Act 2015, and it’s ripping off tenants who can’t make an informed choice. Whilst the Tenant Fees Act is a brilliant victory for renters, it is clear that we need better enforcement of the law if it is to work properly.
“That’s why Generation Rent supporters have started a Letting Agent Detective team. These are ordinary renters, taking matters into their own hands by mystery shopping letting agents across England to expose them. We’ve found letting agents across the country disregarding the law or deliberately misleading tenants.”