A Leeds based letting agent is calling for support in organising a national forum to discuss the issue of letting agents’ fees.
Jonathan Morgan, of Morgans, is looking to hear from all agents who would be interested in the forum to debate the issue.
The forum would be held in the third week of January, in either Leeds or London.
Morgan is sure that the lettings industry in England would be destroyed if the issue of banning agents’ fees isn’t challenged.
Referring to the ban of all agents’ fees on tenants in Scotland, Morgan described it as “staggering.”
“To totally ban all letting agents’ fees makes no sense at all,” he says. “There is a substantial cost associated with running a lettings business and staff can’t carry out viewings, inventories, check references and complete other administration tasks for free.”
Morgan blames the Scottish media for blurring the issue further: “[The media] is also claiming that lettings fees charged have been illegal and they are pushing for PPI-style pay outs, which is just absurd. These fees have not been mis-sold – they are simply part of the lettings process.”
Letting Agent to Organise National Forum on Fees
He also calls to our Government to “not feel forced into restructuring the entire lettings industry because of a media campaign.”
Morgan bases these opinions on his experience within the industry. He further explains that other agents will agree that a “fair and transparent approach to fees charged is required, but unfortunately there are unscrupulous operators in this industry and their bad practise is tainting everybody else.”
His ideas are to have the Government consult with letting agents and those campaigning for a ban on fees to reach a mutually beneficial outcome.
Morgan believes: “Letting agents have to make a profit in order to employ staff, service landlords, and find and manage properties for tenants, and of course those tenants must be given a clear and simple explanation of any fees they are paying.
“At the moment all agents can do is voluntarily sign up to RICS or ARLA, but as the Which? report has proven, the majority of tenants and landlords don’t even know who these bodies are or what they do.”
The Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) regulates construction and property professionals, whereas The Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA) is a professional body for individuals working in residential property letting and management in the UK.
Morgan concludes: “The only way forward is a consultative approach that provides an outcome that will protect tenants, landlords and agents.
“We are already in discussion with Leeds MP Hilary Benn, Shelter, and one of the UK’s biggest firms of letting agents, Countrywide, and hope to arrange a forum in which we can all talk openly and honestly to find a solution, and I am keen for any agents who want to be involved to get in touch.”1
Jonathan Morgan can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org