On the 1st of June 2019, a new law will come into effect that will stop Letting agents from charging upfront fees to tenants. Here is some information and opinions of what this means to the average renter and landlord dealing with letting agents.
What are Agency Fees?
Lettings agents can charge tenants for a number of things currently;
- Referencing, Immigration Checks and Credit Checks (making sure applicants is allowed to and can afford the rent).
- Administration costs for example, phone calls and postage of documents.
- Drawing up contacts and sorting out all necessary certificates and conduction and inventory.
These are usually called Agency Fees or Admin Fees, they may also charge additional fees to renew your contract or an end of tenancy inspection.
How will this effect potential tenants?
Letting agents will no longer be allowed to charge upfront fees when renting a property. If you renew or sign a contract after the 1st of June, they cannot ask you to pay for;
- Renewing any contract.
- Any referencing, credit or immigration checks.
- Administration costs.
There are still a number of fees and deposits (such as a holding deposit) that you may be asked to pay, these are generally not typically including in agency fees, such as;
- The cost of replacing any keys that you may loose.
- If you want to may amendments to your tenancy or end it prematurely.
- If you are more than 2 weeks late with your rent.
How will this effect Landlords who rent with letting agencies?
We suspect that landlords will be expected to pay for the upfront fees that are normally charged, this may cause landlords to recoup the loss by increasing the rent. This may also cause more landlords to not go with letting agencies and prefer to go with property marketing companies (like Padpla!) as they offer the same marketing as letting agencies but none of the fees that agents may charge.
Some Property Marketing companies offer extras such as EPC’s and Gas Safety Certificates, however this easily be sourced by the landlord with little to no effort whatsoever and landlords are slowly beginning to realise this. This trend may cause a lot of estate agencies to slowly disappear from the high street (we hope).
As someone who used to work in a letting agency as an administrator, this really brings me joy to hear that this practice will stop, however I am very wary of what this means for a landlord who lets their property via a letting agency. One of the reasons that Padpla came about was a need for a “does what it says on the tin” marketing site for properties in the UK. Letting agencies make their money by providing services which can easily be sourced by the landlord (it is not that hard to search the internet for Gas Safe Engineer in your area or finding a local Inventory Clerk) and charging extra.
If you would like to read more, The RLA (Residential Landlord Association), has written an amazing guide going into a lot of detail.