Lobby group Generation Rent has found 21 agents that it says are breaking the law by failing to display fees.
As the days tick down towards implementation of the fees ban on Saturday, Generation Rent names 11 of the 21 who it says are “brazen” in their “bad behaviour”.
Of the 11, two tell tenants to ask individual branches, and one has a pop-up with no text on it.
Most simply do not give the fees at all, and one says “Tenant fees coming soon”.
Generation Rent does acknowledge that the 21 agents it found not displaying fees is well down from the 131 it found in earlier research.
But it goes on to add: “In our experience there are too many agents who will try anything to squeeze money out of tenants, so we are keeping our eyes peeled for new scams that emerge once fees are banned.”
It adds that the “worst agents could continue to push their luck after June 1”. Generation Rent is providing a platform by which the public can report agents.
The blog also cites an article in the i newsletter which claims that a letting agent was pressurising tenants into renewing their tenancy agreement several weeks before their current tenancy expires.
If they did, then they would pay tenant fees, the story claims, or otherwise face a £45 hike in rent.
The i article claims that Leeds Rentals wrote in April asking three tenants to renew before their contract ends on July 31.
The tenants said they next heard from Leeds Rental with a request for permission to enter the property for a viewing.
Tenant Laurence Huntington said: “This was when Leeds Rentals again asked for £140 per person and said that if we didn’t sign by the start of May they would have ‘no option but to put our house on the market’.”
The tenants also claimed to have been sent a subsequent email by Leeds Rentals warning: “If you are not able or willing to re-sign by this date then we already have a number of groups who will be willing to secure the property at the increased rent, which we will advise the landlord to accept.”
However Leeds Rentals has told EYE that the claims are not correct.
Director Hedley Manton told us: “The two tenants in question expressed their wishes to renew their tenancy at the property they are residing in a number of months ago.
“We advised them that we would be delighted to renew their tenancy, and explained what fees would be required to be paid in order for us to complete the tenancy renewal.
“The administration fee ban had not come into effect, and when we discussed this with the tenants we were legally allowed to charge a fee. We told the tenants that as a gesture of good will if they re-signed by a specific date we would keep the rent at the same price, otherwise the rent would be increased at the end of their fixed term tenancy.
“This was noting to do with the tenant fee ban, but simply an incentive to encourage tenants to secure their property early which in essence gives the landlord peace of mind their property is let.
“These two tenants have tried to twist the incentive offered by us and the landlord into a situation that they believe they are being pressured into re-signing their tenancy and paying an administration fee.
“This simply is not the case. and we don’t mind either way if the tenants re-sign or they don’t. If they don’t wish to re-sign due to the popularity of the property we are able to achieve a higher rent for the house, and the landlord has advised and agreed that she wishes to re market the house at the increased rent.
“If the tenants wish to renew their tenancy then equally she is happy for them to re-sign but at the higher rent.
“Everything which has been discussed with the tenants has been done within the legal requirements, and both tenants have been left to decide how they wish to proceed.
“It seems that they do not wish to pay an administration fee to re-sign which is perfectly fine, but they also don’t want to have their rent increased which the landlord is fully entitled to do. Due to this not suiting the tenants they have created a story that they are being pressured.”
The i article, written by journalist Vicky Spratt who has been a vocal campaigner against fees, also criticises national chain Leaders for its ‘no deposit’ option.
The article says that tenants pay a monthly fee of 4% of their rent plus VAT, but does not protect tenants from future claims, and that the money is not protected by a deposit protection scheme.
It quotes one tenant who paid Leaders a total of £187.20 over six months, and then says she would have to pay an admin fee of £100 plus VAT to switch to a deposit scheme. The deposit itself, equivalent to eight weeks rent, would have been £1,300.
Leaders told i that it had now removed fees associated with switching to a traditional deposit.
The article quotes both Generation Rent and housing lawyer Giles Peaker, of Anthony Gold.
Generation Rent said that ‘no deposit’ schemes could prove expensive if a monthly charge is levied on top of rent.
Peaker said that the schemes were “broadly legal” provided that agents do not require tenants to enter into them from June 1, but said they were a bad deal for the tenants: “Either way, the tenant pays money they won’t get back ever.
“The only small advantage for the tenant is not having to pay a deposit upfront.”