Shelter May Have Done More Harm than Good Says Scottish Letting Agent

08 September 2012 Categories: News

Shelter May Have Done More Harm than Good Says Scottish Letting Agent

Housing charity, Shelter, won a victory in Scotland this week after campaigning for the introduction of government legislation that will make it illegal for letting agents to charge tenants for services such as referencing and credit checks, but Sue Hopson, brand standards director for Martin & Co. has hit back saying the charity may have done more harm than good.

Hopson explained that although Shelter thought they were working on behalf of Scottish tenants they may have inadvertently given landlords no choice but to increase rents, so making life harder for the tenants they were trying to help. In an interview Hopson said, “Agents cannot provide tenancy referencing and other services for free, so they will have to charge landlords more, and landlords in turn will have to put rents up.

“Shelter may think it has been on the side of tenants, but tenants could well think exactly the opposite and believe that Shelter has done them no favours at all.”

So far the Scottish government has given no indication whether tenant fees paid in the past need to be refunded, but if it turns out they do then thousands of smaller letting agencies will go bust. Hopson went on to comment, “The Government has kept very quiet. We are using a letter that ARLA has prepared for agents to send to tenants, saying that pending clarification about retrospective fees, we will not be making any refunds.

“However, Martin & Co will be stopping taking fees – the writing is on the wall. The question about retrospective refunds remains a grey area.”