15 agents in breach of new law
Renters in Croydon can expect to pay an average of £464 in letting fees when they move, research by Generation Rent reveals today.
Under new rules letting agents are required to publish their fees online, so the local campaigners have published a list of all local agents and their fees on one easy-to-use website, lettingfees.co.uk.
Out of 38 letting agents analysed, 15 do not publish full information about their fees online – in breach of a new law that has come into force.
Out of the 23 that do publish information in full, Bairstow Eves charges the most. A typical couple signing a tenancy on a two bedroom house would have to pay Bairstow Eves £694 in fees alone.
While some online letting agents charge very low – or even no – fees, the cheapest high street agent is Willow Residential Letting. A typical couple renting through Willow would pay only £200 in fees.
These fees are likely to continue climbing ever higher, particularly as many letting agents link them to rents. All this all comes at a time when local people are increasingly unable to escape private rented housing: there are 5102 households on the council house waiting list and the average cost of a house in the borough is 7.57 times the average income of residents.
Letting agents may be breaking the law in other ways. Of the 38 letting agents, 17 do not display membership of any of the three legally mandated redress schemes. Agents can be fined £5000 if they are not a members of a scheme.
Generation Rent shared its findings with Croydon Council and asked it to investigate the apparent breaches of the law.
Alex Parsons, a local member of Generation Rent, said:
“Flat hunters in Croydon are desperate to find a suitable home at a rent they can afford. That means they’re a captive market for unscrupulous letting agents who can charge whatever fees they feel like. We want to see fees banned, but until they are we hope this transparency will help our new neighbours avoid the worst operators.”
During autumn 2015, Generation Rent volunteers checked information on fees on each letting agent’s website, and checked each letting agent’s membership of one of the three approved redress schemes. For the purposes of comparison, typical fees are based on a household of two adults renting a two bedroom flat and not needing a guarantor to secure the tenancy. The group invites letting agents to update the website as and when they change their fees policies.
Generation Rent notified Croydon Council of its findings on 15 December.
The full list is published here:
Generation Rent (www.generationrent.org), the operating name of the National Private Tenants Organisation, is campaigning for professionally managed, secure, decent and affordable, privately rented homes in sustainable communities.
The research in Croydon is part of a national project by Generation Rent which is helping other local renter groups produce similar research on letting agents in their local areas.
On 27 May 2015 it became a legal requirement under the Consumer Rights Act for all letting agents in England to display a comprehensive list of fees on their website.
Since 1 October 2014, it has been a legal requirement for all letting agents and property managers in England to be a member of one of 3 approved redress schemes. Ones that are not a member can be fined by a local authority up to £5000.
Dan Wilson Craw
Policy and Communications Manager