EPTAG and Shelter campaigns are misguided, says leading UK letting-only portal

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Lettingweb speak out against campaign that is causing more confusion than clarity.

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For every Letting Agent that is charging illegal premiums, there will be many who are simply trying to recover the cost of vetting a tenant.

According to Lettingweb, the increasing press coverage and media activity from various campaigns aiming to redress the issue of ‘tenancy fees’ is not helping to alleviate the problems that the private letting market is currently facing.

Greater talk of regulation in government, combined with the public campaigns run by organisations such as the Edinburgh Private Tenants Action Group (EPTAG), and Shelter Scotland, has raised the profile of movements such as Shelter’s Reclaim Your Fees, available here.

However, according to Lettingweb, encouraging large numbers of tenants to ask their agents for a refund on fees is putting a needless burden on agents that haven’t necessarily broken the law. The Scottish Government’s position on the charging of premiums is that “there is confusion around what a premium is and whether some fees charged to tenants are reasonable and should be allowed.”

Until a definitive determination from the Government is announced, the notion of what constitutes a premium is unknown. Each case must be presented on its own merits and the burden of proof is on the tenant, not the letting agent. Illegal premiums are wrong and should be stopped, but forcing the issue before the Government has clarified the position of the law only confuses the matter and places strain on letting agents.

Steve Tigar, the Managing Director of Lettingweb, said:

    ‘At Lettingweb we believe that both tenants and landlords are safer using an accredited letting agent. Letting agents incur significant administrative costs during the tenant application process; costs which have to be borne by someone. If these costs need to be covered by landlords we may well see an increase in rents as landlords try to recuperate the loss.

Obviously this isn't Shelter's intention, but it highlights the problem of attacking a complicated issue with a one-size-fits-all solution. We look forward to receiving clarification from the Scottish Government on what constitutes a premium and what are considered fair and reasonable fees to charge.’

As a leading UK letting-only property portal, Lettingweb connects thousands of prospective tenants with letting agents each year. Improving the letting market for everyone involved is one of Lettingweb’s top priorities.

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Patrick Foot

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