MPs tell cowboy letting agents to skidaddle
A group of MPs are campaigning to introduce tighter restrictions on ‘cowboy’ letting agents, who charge random and often illegal fees to line their increasingly overstuffed pockets.
Committee chairman Clive Betts called the letting sector ‘The property industry's Wild West’, and that they should play fair or saddle up and mosey on out. (Then he expectorated into a spittoon).
According to Shelter, the letting industry is ‘out of control’, and over a third of all complaints to the Office of Fair Trading relate to unreasonable fees and charges on top of deposits and rent. On average, tenants in England are paying £350 to letting agents for dodgy ‘registration’ or ‘processing’ fees.
Some have to pay up front, but there are other letting agents who slyly introduce charges after a contract has been signed.
The Committee’s report suggests that letting agents must abide by the same standards as estate agents, and that the OFT can kick their asses if they don’t. They also say that letting agents should be transparent about fees before a contract is agreed.
Anyone who is renting knows that the rot goes deeper than hidden charges and slippery extras – properties in disrepair, lack of support and communication, extortionate rents - but it’s a start.
Maybe soon we’ll be able ride off into the sunset on a nice 2 bedroom flat close to transport links - without having to worry that the landlord is a villain.