UK Letting Agents May Soon Be Licensed

14 December 2011 Categories: News

UK Letting Agents May Soon Be Licensed

An independent think tank that concentrates on the views of lower income groups recently called for the Government to license letting agents in the same way that they license estate agents.  After conducting a mystery shopper exercise of 25 letting agents in three major cities, the Resolution Foundation found that ‘cowboy’ letting agents do in fact exist, and that tenants using these particular agents can expect to pay significant up-front costs and unrealistic agent fees.

The data collected showed that administration costs varied enormously, ranging from £95 up to £375, and that deposits on properties were generally equal to one month’s rent in Manchester but up to 2.5 month’s rent in London. When the letting agents’ websites were viewed only two of the 25 displayed their rental costs and fees; a fact that indicates most renters may not understand the full extent of the costs before they agree to rent a property.

Vidhya Alakeson, Director of Research at Resolution commented “We need more transparency so tenants at least know what fees they’re facing and to help create a more competitive market. Given that an increasing number of families have no option other than to rent long term, we need to question why letting agents are not regulated to the same degree as estate agents.”

The report and the call to the Government for letting agent licensing has been backed by the Ombudsman. Good news for landlords I’m sure!!!