It’s high time we clamped down on letting agents
Exorbitant fees and dismal customer satisfaction levels… it’s time letting agents changed their tune.
It’s a scandal that letting agents aren’t regulated in this country. What other industry has such a major effect on people’s lives yet isn’t subject to an ombudsman or watchdog?
A new report from Shelter shows that nearly a quarter of Brits feel they’ve been ripped off by letting agents’ charges. More than half said they had either been ripped off or knew someone who had. The only thing that surprises me is that the figures are so low…
If you haven’t rented for a while then you might wonder why tenants put up with it. Surely they can find another property to rent, with a letting agent that doesn’t charge such ridiculous fees?
Unfortunately, now is a particularly bad time to rent. As fewer and fewer people can afford to buy, demand for rented accommodation is rocketing. Rents hit a record high in July, according to LSL Property Services.
Some may be unable to move because it means paying fresh fees, so they’re stuck with a useless agent
Letting agents often add large administration fees onto those costs, meaning tenants are finding themselves trapped. Some may be unable to move because it means paying fresh fees, so they’re stuck with a useless agent.
I have a particular interest in this. Not only have I been a tenant for many years, but I’m now one of the growing number of ‘accidental landlords’ – we’ve been unable to sell my home but my family has outgrown it.
We’ve let our first home to a young, professional couple and we’re all sick of the letting agent.
They’ve charged both us and our tenants for the same services, they’ve lied and they’ve pretended their mistakes were made by our tenants.
The only way things will get better for tenants is if letting agents are properly regulated and there’s a way for them to be held to account
When we finally sat down with the couple, it was really distressing hearing how much the agent’s incompetence had upset them. I feel like a bad landlord – yet I only used the agent’s services to ensure my tenants had a professional experience.
Above all else, tenants need the security that homeowners take for granted and that will only come when the industry behaves in a properly professional way. And let’s be honest - no industry will pull itself out of a customer service slump during a boom in demand.
The only way things will get better for tenants is if letting agents are properly regulated and there’s a way for them to be held to account. Our MPs, many of whom own more than one home themselves, need to make this a priority and protect the 3.62 million households that rent privately.
- Felicity Hannah is a personal finance journalist living in the north of England.
HAVE YOU HAD A BAD EXPERIENCE WITH A LETTING AGENT? DO YOU THINK THEY SHOULD BE REGULATED? DO YOU THINK LANDLORDS ARE OFTEN VICTIMS TOO?LET US KNOW IN THE COMMENTS SECTION BELOW OR USING #SOCIALVOICES ON TWITTER
Welcome to #socialvoices. This is the home of sharp writing, opinion and social debate on MSN. Jump into the comments, tweet us with the hashtag. Join in.
When did you last switch your current account?
Thanks for being one of the first people to vote. Results will be available soon. Check for results
- In the last six months
- In the last year
- In the last two years
- In the last three years
- In the last five years
- 75 %I have never switched current accounts