The National Approved Letting Scheme has announced its Fair Fees Forum. This has been created in ordered to bring industry, trading standards and consumer groups together to talk about the creation of a new charter for the private rented sector.
In addition, the Fair Fees Forum will look at whether capping upfront tenant fees is both practical and enforceable. At the same time, the Forum will look at creating a uniform format to clearly outline fees charged to tenants.
Issues surrounding letting agent fees in England continue to rumble on. More numbers of tenant organisations are campaigning for a blanket ban on fees. As such, the National Approved Letting Scheme has acted to create the Forum.
The Forum will work closely together to consider fees and make sure that agents are still paid for work undertaken when setting up a tenancy. However, the Fair Fees Forum will look at ways to curb the fee excesses that have made their way into the market.
A cap on fees has long been called for by the Scheme, with support growing in the industry. The National Approved Letting Scheme asked 1,000 of its letting agent firms based in England if they agree a cap on fees is appropriate, as opposed to a total ban.
Results from the survey were interesting, with 84% of agents agreeing to a cap rather than blanket ban.
What’s more, analysis found that on average, the fees letting agents charge to tenants are £172-less than the national average of £233, as reported in the English Survey of Housing.
Isobel Thomson, Chief Executive of NALS said: ‘Ultimately this is about creating an equitable solution for all. The truth is, a good private rented sector cannot be free, and nor should it be. Agents should be paid for the work they do, but equally tenants should know they are paying a reasonable fee that has been explained to them clearly: nothing hidden, nothing excessive.’
‘The private rented sector faces the widely held misconception that all letting agent fees are sky high, and should therefore be banned. In fact, the bulk of letting agents are charging tenants a fair fee for their service. Where they aren’t, we believe excessive fees should be curbed. NALS’ Fair Fees Forum brings all sides together to explore the feasibility and practicalities of a cap as well as considering the way in which agents’ present fees to tenants to ensure clarity and understanding. This is not a talking shop – it’s time to act on excessive tenant fees,’ she added.