Buy-to-let landlords are once again under scrutiny, following last week’s decision in the Autumn Statement that letting agent fees will be banned.
Many peers feel that rents will rise as a result of the changes, with landlords looking to raise extra funds to cover their extended outgoings.
An industry peer has suggested many landlords should consider ditching letting agents as a result, particularly those that charge ‘rip-off’ fees.
Simon Lambert, editor of This is Money, observed: ‘Landlords are always ripe for a kicking in some circles, so it should come as no surprise that they were swiftly painted as potential villains in the ban on tenant fees.’
‘The theory on the news that Chancellor Philip Hammond would ban tenant fees in his Autumn Statement was that buy-to-let owners would respond by passing on higher costs through rent rises,’ he continued.
Continuing, Lambert said that buy-to-let landlords have a right to be, ‘as angry as tenants over letting agency fees.’
‘Many landlords pay handsomely for letting and management already and the fees they pay are meant to cover many of the things that some unscrupulous letting agents also charge tenants for. A check with their agent on the level of double-charging going on would leave a landlord as grumpy as their tenant,’ Lambert observed.
Are landlords set to shun letting agents?
Lack of service
Mr Lambert also highlighted the fact that many landlords are sticking with letting agents who do not deliver a sufficient service.
He said: ‘Ask any long-term landlord and they will tell you that the difficulty is in finding a good letting agent, who takes all the worry of sorting any problems for you off your hands. They will have a network including plumbers, electricians, and handymen or women, who can get things fixed ASAP, do essential maintenance swiftly and at a fair cost and keep your tenants happy.’
‘Happy tenants are the key to buy-to-let success, as unless you are in a hot property area such as London where places rent instantly, its vital to avoid rental voids. Even one month of your property sitting unlet but your mortgage and other bills needing paying, proves expensive. Yet many landlords stick with letting agents who don’t do a great job for them, overcharge them for maintenance, double-charge them and tenants for the same work, and upset tenants with demands for unfair fees.’
Concluding, Lambert told landlords: ‘If your agent can’t explain exactly what the charge is for and justify the cost and why you aren’t already paying for this, leave.’