Letting agencies still in breach of ‘transparency of fees’ regulations
SHAC’s efforts to press lettings agencies to apply the ‘transparency of fees’ regulations have achieved some results. Originally when we wrote to 15 agencies only 2 bothered replying. After an article in the Swindon Advertiser and an editorial supporting our campaign were published, some obviously decided that neither we nor the issue would go away. They started responding to our further correspondence and some of the information started appearing on websites.
There are only 3 agencies out of 33 we have checked which now do not have tenant fees on their website. However, some of them are applying the word of the law rather than the spirit. In some cases the information is not very prominent, not easily found. We don’t believe this is accidental.
More agencies appear reluctant to provide information on landlords’ fees. We have found a dozen that do not have these fees on their websites. This is probably because there is more chance of competition for landlords kicking in. Tenants are generally interested in a particular property regardless of who the agency is whereas a landlord is looking for a service, managing a property for them, and can pick or chose who provides it.
Following meetings between SHAC and Council officers we understand that they have started visiting agencies that are in breach of the regulations and that enforcement actions may be taken if deemed necessary.
Steve Allsop for SHAC said:
“It has now been more than a year since the regulations were brought in and still there are agencies refusing to implement them. This avoidance is obviously to protect the money they make from their sometimes extortionate fees.
If the information they should provide was really transparent then competition would kick in and they might be obliged to lower their fees in order not to lose customers. That’s why some of them are reluctant to give it.
We hope that visits from the Council’s staff will have the desired effect. However, if agencies are still not fully implementing the regulations then we will publicise which ones are failing to do so. More than a year after the introduction of the regulations none of them can say they are unaware of the law.”
Swindon Housing Action Campaign Media Release
June 28th 2016