Three-quarters of public want to see letting agents’ fees regulated plus rent controls

A survey for the BBC’s popular Victoria Derbyshire programme has revealed that 76% of people want the lettings industry to be regulated, and 74% want rent controls.

The regulation that they want to see includes control over letting agent fees, lengths of contracts, deposits, and inventory checks.

Yesterday’s Victoria Derbyshire Show discussed the private rented sector and the results of its research.

The survey of 1,002 people also revealed that 69% want rent increases when a tenancy is renewed to be capped, while 63% want the standard minimum letting period to be increased to 12 months.

The accompanying BBC news story features three case studies, including a family with three children who have moved home ten times in the last 12 years, and a tenant given 28 days’ notice to leave his home of five years, and who struggled to find the money needed for a deposit, rent in advance plus agents’ fees for his next rental home.

Alan Ward, chairman of the Residential Landlords Association, told the BBC that while the idea of rent controls may seem “attractive”, they would be a “disaster”.

He said: “All experience of them shows that they lead to landlords cutting investment or quitting the market, reducing both quality and choice for tenants. The way to moderate rents is to encourage investment and boost supply.

“There are already well over 400 regulations affecting the private rented sector, and the actions of successive governments is raising the cost of renting.

“The problem is not about a lack of regulations but proper enforcement of them, and we support local authorities in their efforts to root out criminal landlords.”

A spokesman for the Department of Communities and Local Government said: “This government is committed to creating a bigger, better private rented sector, with up to £10bn in government-backed guarantees to build more quality homes for rent.

“We are doing this without the need for excessive State regulation that would push up prices and make it far harder for people to find somewhere to rent.”

Meanwhile, the Valuation Office Agency yesterday released statistics on the private rental market in England.

It said that the median monthly rent between October 1, 2015, and September 30 this year was £650.

London had the highest median monthly rent at £1,473 and the north-east the lowest at £480.

The south-east had the second highest median monthly rent at £850.

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14 Comments

  1. Chri Wood

    75% of the population also want to drink wine every night, eat cake and crisps every day and still have the body of a God or Goddess.

    Be careful of what you wish for.

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    1. mrharvey

      Ha – and the god they would have the body of… Silenus!

      One of my favourite Greek Gods – check out his description: “He’s fat, bald, hairy and drunk. Much as you would expect.  Silenus is the teacher and debauched buddy of Dionysus, and taught him such tricks as balancing a wine glass on your nose and how to open a bottle of wine with your teeth.”

      That’s what we’re becoming with our culture of entitlement and individualism.

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  2. sanjeev

    100% of agents would like these daft surveys apparently that are being carried out to get real.

     

    Also these people must have a lot of time on their hands to carry out these daft surveys.

     

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  3. eduardo

    ‘The public’ voted brexit, ‘the public’ voted Trump. I’ve nothing against the public, but the public don’t know  sh** from clay.

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  4. Ding Dong

    Unless we get our house in order, then the clamour for some form on control over fees etc will get louder

    How many of you as lettings agents, have the word non-refundable attached to your holding deposit or initial admin fee?  Quite a few I bet and the use of such language was deemed unfair by the OFT.  What happens if the landlord pulls out before the deal, does the landlord have to pay the applicant for time wasted etc.

    What about a clause in the TPO code of practice which I have only seen a few agents comply with. Clause 9e states:

    “You must provide the parties with a draft or specimen tenancy agreement prior to the tenant becoming liable for fees or charges associated with the rental of the property except where such opportunity is declined or where you hold an instruction to the contrary. Where there is to be a guarantor for the tenant for the tenancy, this facility must be extended to that person”.

    As an industry we complain about being complained about, but until we all start complying and acting in a professional manner, then I have some sympathy with tenants.

     

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    1. seenitall

      If a landlord pulls out ALL of the fees the tenants have paid is refunded!  I dont know ANY agency that wont – do you and if so who?

      Tenants/gtors have the option to see a draft tenancy agreement before paying anything !  Not rocket science and you make it sound like its not happening.

      The TPO did not say fees not being refunded was unfair – the fees deducted had to be reasonable and justifiable.

      Its not wasted time  but once work has started on the actual referecing then costs are incurred. So long as your fees as non reundable are justified then you can legally charge them.  Same for any other contract a person signs up for it has to be fair. If a 3rd party starts the work then you are going be liable for some fees/costs.

      If tenants paid nothing – they will make multiple applications to a number of properties and then at the last min hard ball to get the best deal   so perhaps apply for 9 properties and the references are carried out on all 9 by 9 seperate agents and a few days before the start the agent tells 8 of them to reduce the price or they wont rent it.

      or

      Agents will ask about ccj’s ability to pay the rent etc but the tenants will lie and it wont be until youve done all the references that you find they are not in employment or something else they have lied about.  if there is no financial consequence for a tenant it will be a complete mess.

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      1. Ding Dong

        Just to clarify my post as you seem to have read it slightly differently then I intended

        (1) i did not say that people do not refund a deposit when a landlord pulls out. What I was trying to say is that if you have  a contract which penalises a tenant for withdrawing, what is the penalty to the landlord for doing the same?  from my experience zilch apart from handing back the money the tenant paid to the agent.  Any contract needs to be fair to both parties.

        (2) On the sample tenancy, I guarantee you that you are in the minority.  I have worked in London for an agency with 30 plus offices and they do not provide one, nor was it the experience of the other staff there, who had worked for many of the agents in West and Central London.  I worked on a consultancy basis with agents now, and the majority do not have such a process.

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  5. Will

    If that is what they want they will get the consequences which will be less property as it become uneconomic to provide the housing.  If they understood simple economics and a little of housing history they would understand the true effects of rent control.  Whilst politicians and the press like headlining they ignore the realities of life.  It is a simple equation to few houses to many demanding them = chaos.  If only the politicians cut the bull and start building it could solve the problems but BULL is cheaper than ACTION and the public fall for it every time!!!

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  6. seenitall

    BBC – Biased Beyond Comprehension.          Its reporting and adjenda is awful and would not take anything it now reports as fact or truthful

     

    3 case study – one with 3 children moved 10 times in 12 years – why?  damaged the property/asbos/didnt pay the rent perhaps?

    28 days notice to leave – errr the legal min notice is 2 months?    cant be correct reporting can it?

    tenant rented for 5 years didnt save any money, spent it all on holidays, wine and cars now wonders why they cannot afford a property in a more expensive area when they want to move?

    Of 1002 people asked 100% would also like their rents to reduce,   95% would like not to clean the property at the end of the tenancy  96% would like not to pay anything to agents  but also suprisingly 76% would like the landlord to make them breakfast in bed (4% wanted specified free range eggs and bacon) and then do the washing up.

    Turkeys Voting.

     

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  7. Peter

    The other 25% must the the Letting Agents!

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    1. Will

      That’ll be the letting agents wet nursing the  bad tenants I guess!

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  8. Woodentop

    “The problem is not about a lack of regulations but proper enforcement of them, and we support local authorities in their efforts to root out criminal landlords.”

     

    Couldn’t have put it better. I would also go as far as to say the root of the problem isn’t so much letting agencies but private landlords and bad tenants, they are often a free will doing everything wrong and the latter supported by the state and system. You have a system which is currently biased against those that provide housing and this encourages many a landlord to become rogue, while there is no hope for controlling landlords from hell. Is it me or is everything we hear orientated against landlords and agents and nothing to protect the industry from tenants from hell?

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  9. mrharvey

    “This government is committed to creating a bigger, better private rented sector, with up to £10bn in government-backed guarantees to build more quality homes for rent.”

    I’m also committed to marrying Jennifer Lawrence and having a solid gold throne in my bedroom. Doesn’t mean it’s going to happen.

    And the stats are obvious enough to not be newsworthy, unfortunately. The idea that anyone wants to spend MORE on rent is hilarious.

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  10. Malcolm17

    I will give you two letting examples that I have come across this week alone.

    Essex – tenants opted to re-new their assured shorthold tenancy agreement for a further year, but with a six month break clause.  Directly underneath the six month break clause, the agents also inserted additional clauses to the effect that;

    1) Notwithstanding the six month break clause, the tenants would still be liable for the rent up until the point that new tenants had been found for the property and started paying the rent.

    2) The tenants would also have to pay an additional month’s rent plus VAT for exercising the six month break clause.

    North East Lincolnshire – potential tenants were charged non-refundable administration fees, only to be told that the landlord had decided to let to somebody else.  When they did a bit of digging, they found that at least five couples were in the same boat.  To make matters worse, they were re-locating with work and had offered to pay six month’s rent in advance (the agents would only permit a six month assured shorthold tenancy), such was their desperation to get things sorted and move.  They are now convinced that the property had already been let.

    Too many are giving letting a bad name and it’s time for regulation.

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