Category Archives: letting agents

Council gives letting agents 28-days to display fees or face £5,000 fine after TH Renters campaign

Tower Hamlets Council has issued six letting agents with notices they will face a £5,000 fine if they do not begin displaying their fees after research by TH Renters revealed 34 were failing to do so.

Since April 2015 letting agents are legally obliged to display their fees prominently online and in their offices, but research carried out by TH Renters and Generation Rent showed 34 of around 170 agents operating in the borough were failing to do so.

Following a high-profile protest and campaign TH Renters submitted their findings to TH Council’s cabinet members for housing and its trading standards department to act on.

Dave Tolley, head of environmental health and trading standards, said an officer was dispatched to check on 11 of the agents and found six still failing to display their fees and subsequently issued them with a ‘notice of intent’. He said his officers would check another eight in the coming days.

While forcing agents to display their fees is unlikely to bring their extortionate rates down it sends a message that they should at least abide by the law and that there are concerned renters who will pursue them if they do not.

Recently an agent was reported to the police and council after a member of his team allegedly assaulted a tenant in his own home following years of the agent letting themselves into their home unannounced.

After initial attempts to dismiss the report TH cabinet members for housing were contacted and the case is being investigated by both the police and the housing department.

Plans are currently afoot to set up an ethical letting agent that will charge minimum fees and offer longer tenancies, however, the new London Mayor has made similar proposals and so local efforts may be unnecessary.

A previous attempt by Hackney Council has so far proved unsuccessful with little take up by landlords suggesting a higher profile marketing and engagement campaign may be necessary to make it work.

Pro-active councils could also look at taking over sub-standard and empty properties in their boroughs, doing them up with government funding and manage them for a minimum five years to help get ball rolling.

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TH Renters to send council list of letting agents not displaying fees as law requires

agent protest wideshot

Clarke & Lloyds, off Brick Lane, doesn’t display its fees

TH Renters is to send TH Council a list of 35 letting agents not displaying their fees online, as the law requires, after completing a research programme with Generation Rent.

The agents will be subject to a £5,000 fine if the council pursues them. From May last year agents are obliged to clearly display their fees both online and in their offices so potential tenants know in advance what they can expect to pay.

Previously agents that hid charges could only be named and shamed by the Advertisement Standards Authority. The Government said the new law will “require letting agents to publish a full tariff of their fees both on their websites and prominently in their offices. Anyone who does not comply with these new rules will face a fine.”

35 agents storyHowever, ten months later many are still not doing so either through ignorance or maybe they have something to hide. Our research found agents charging fees of up to £900 for two people to rent a property and up to £762 for someone renting alone. It’s possible some of the 35, which failed to publish their fees, are charging even more.

On Saturday, 20th Feb, TH Renters paid a visit to some of the guilty agents to hand them a mock fine before protesting outside and handing out leaflets to passers-by.

We hope renters will demand to see agents’ fees up front and inform us or the council where they’re not.

£5000 fine certificate

TH Renters kindly warned a few TH letting agents about the law before shopping them to the council on Monday

 

 

Letting agents and their fees targeted by TH Renters

nelly agent midshot cropTH Renters targeted a series of letting agents today over their extortionate fees and failure to display them as the law requires.

We first visited Spencer’s Property on Bethnal Green Road and handed them a certificate for being the most expensive agent in TH – outside the oligarchy of Canary Wharf.

Spencer’s charge a whopping £742 in admin and reference fees for two people to rent one of their properties, and an even stiffer £521 for one person renting alone

With a months rent and deposit demanded up front that means renters have to find around £2,000 before moving into one of their cheaper properties.

We then held a protest outside handing out leaflets and explaining the action to passers by. The action was carried out after we completed a research project with Generation Rent, which along with Shelter and ourselves, is calling for agent fees to be banned altogether.

stuck with us crop

From our leaflet for passers-by

For the average Londoner the additional cost in fees can leave renters having to borrow money or go without the basics simply to put a roof over their head.

The worst offender in Tower Hamlets is Skampi that operates out of an off-street office in Canary Wharf and charges £900 in fees for two people to rent a property, although Vanet Property Management, also in Canary Wharf, shamelessly demands £762 in fees for one person renting alone.

TH Renters would like to see tenant fees banned as they are in Scotland, which has been successfully enforced since 2012.

spencers certifcate-page