A survey of tenants experience……
Resolution Foundation, an organisation that works to highlight the experiences of low-to-middle earners (LMEs) through its research has published a report on its survey of tenants experience in the private rented sector.
Resolution Foundation conducted I mystery shopping exercise of 25 letting agents and also spoke to tenants about their experience in the lettings market where a letting agent was involved. The main cause for concern appears to be that the lettings agents are unregulated and that there is a lack of transparency with agents charging arrangements.
The survey found that many agents do not confirm what these fees are in the initial paperwork which can cause some financial difficulty even before the tenancy has begun. PainSmith Solicitors has for many years stressed the importance of confirming these fees at the outset so these results are alarming especially given that in some cases they may not be recoverable under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations.
The report has therefore made the following recommendations:
-letting agents to be brought under the Estate Agents Act (1979), thereby giving the Office of Fair Trading powers to ban agents who act improperly;
-all letting agents to become members of an ombudsman service, giving tenants the opportunity to pursue redress in cases of poor practice;
-an amendment to the code of practice of the ombudsman service to make it a requirement for agents to present landlord and tenant fees on their websites, in adverts and in all paperwork in a way that is easily comparable across agents;
-government to make use of the 2012 retendering process for the tenancy deposit protection schemes to find ways to make it easier for tenants to use their old deposits when moving in the private rented sector;
-local authorities to extend rent deposit schemes to members of the low-to-middle income group.
Whether or not you agree with the recommendations it is important that tenants understand what they are expected to pay and when. These fees should therefore be confirmed in writing before any agreements are concluded to ensure that the fees are recoverable.