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Letting agents under attack again

“Estate agents are really roofless! We all hate estate agents, now here’s another reason,” says a flatsharing website

The Negotiator

Estate agent imageAs demand grows for rented homes, supply is, in many areas, short to non-existent. So rents are rising, not desperately quickly, or by huge amounts, according to HomeLet’s research and not everywhere.

However, some people have to blame someone and who better than the letting agents?

It is certainly an easy call for EasyRoommate, which looked into its data to provide a report of the flat-share market for Q2 2016.

They say: “crucial figures regarding the evolution of flat share market (price evolution, average age of the UK roommate, top 10 of the priciest cities to rent a room) and the analysis of Albin Serviant, CEO of EasyRoommate.

They report three main noticeable trends stand out from this new report:

  • Flatmates have increased (up to 27 per cent) their budget in four years due to higher rental prices over the years.
  • Agencies are at very heart of the housing boom.
  • For young professionals, flat share is the cheapest alternative to classic rental.

Albin Serviant, CEO, says, “Letting agency fees in England are totally unregulated. Every time you are using an estate agency to find your next accommodation, you might incur extra fees. Meanwhile, Scotland decided to ban those hidden fees… in 2012! So what are we waiting for? Rent fees needs to be regulated!”

Meanwhile, others are grumbling about the Government’s plans to improve the energy efficiency of rented housing, saying that it will increase rents for tenants.

New laws mean that from 2018 it will be illegal to rent out property with the worst energy efficiency levels, but the Residential Landlords Association (RLA) is warning that having removed all support for landlords to fund this, the impact will be to raise rents for tenants.

Nearly a third of private rented housing was constructed before 1919 making them some of the hardest to treat properties for energy efficiency improvements. With fuel poverty a bigger challenge in the private rented sector as a result, the RLA argues it is remiss that the Government’s consultation, closing this week, on the future of the Energy Company Obligation (ECO) makes no reference to the private rented sector.

RLA Policy Consultant, Richard Jones, said, “Whilst we all want to see improvements in the energy efficiency of homes to rent, that cannot come at the expense of driving up rents.

“The Government’s proposals will amount simply to another tax on tenants.”

Peter Armistead, a property investor with 100 properties in Manchester, said the Government should be providing alternative support, now the Green Deal has ended, to help fund energy efficiency improvements. “Landlords have been bombarded with new tax measures over the last 12 months and this is yet another cost that some landlords will have to face. Landlords can’t be expected to absorb all these new taxation measures and just stand back and watch their profits being eroded.  Unfortunately, it will be tenants that will have to bare the brunt of these costs through higher rents.”

And finally, Paul Smith (left), CEO of haart estate agents, commented on last week’s ONS Index of Private Housing Rental Prices, “Today’s data shows UK private housing rental prices increased 2.6 per cent on the year as affordability issues in the sales market push up demand and therefore prices in the rental sector. While the number of properties available to rent surged following a rush from buy-to-let investors in advance of the stamp duty changes on the 1st April, we are now seeing a decline in stock as investors withdraw from the market. Ironically, the government’s efforts to help first-time buyers by penalising investors, could end up hindering them as a shortage of rental properties will drive up rents in the long term, making it more difficult to save up for a deposit.”

August 15, 2016

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