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Agents who charge tenants £30 for viewings risk Tenant Fees Act prosecution

Warning is made by Sean Hooker, Head of Redress at the PRS following the launch of a revenue generating property viewings site View Rabbit.

Nigel Lewis

sean hooker material information viewings

A senior industry figure has warned agents who use a recently-launched service which charges £30 for property viewings that they could be in breach of the Tenant Fees Act and face prosecution.

Sean Hooker (main pic), Head of Redress at the PRS, says he understands that customers not turning up to an arranged viewing is a ‘perennial problem’ but that in the rental market, charging tenants to view a property would be problematical.

“Agents…could fall foul of the Tenant Fees Act which prohibits andy charges made as part of the letting process,” he says.

“While an agent is able to take a holding deposit, this is restricted to one week, cannot be non-refundable and is not usually taken until a viewing has occurred and the tenant understands all the terms and conditions. “Even for the buying and selling market, an agent has to be careful to explain the full terms and conditions.

Viewings

“This service may sound good in theory, but like taking reservation fees when an offer is taken, it could be fraught with danger if safeguards are not put in place to comply with the law.”

Hooker is referring to View Rabbit, which launched over the weekend and enables agents to offer sales and lettings viewers the opportunity to see properties early for £30.

Launched by a former Savills estate agent, it also claims to help agents weed out tyre kickers and help minimise the annoying and time-wasting ‘no shows’ that many agents endure daily.

Read more about View Rabbit.

July 27, 2021

5 comments

  1. We have a policy of asking all persons viewing to call 15 minutes before the appointment.

    No call, we do not visit.

    This puts the onus back of the prospective tenant.

    Few people have the courage to make an appointment, confirm it and then not to show up.

    We do get around 9% who do not call to confirm, but then we have not left the office and wasted time.

    John Socha
    Socha Estates
    Northampton

  2. Obviously, The Negotiator is a forum for property professionals to comment on news in the sector, and I would defend every person’s right to do so. But, what is being lost is the voice of the end user – has anyone asked the property buying and property letting public if they feel in 2025, the best way to ‘get a viewing’ is to ‘hope’ that an agent will comeback to them, book in a viewing.

    Or could software just do this instantly, a paid for service, that increases productivity for the agent, focuses viewings at a time that the vendor or landlord or current tenant feels works for them.

    When buyers utilise Amazon – what is that journey like? An initial contact by the buyer, ping pong via various messaging mediums, over several hours or even days, as a human is the gatekeeper to the goods being provided. Are there messages sent to the Amazon buyer, ‘let me see if that item is in stock? I will come back to you tomorrow?’

    Answer no – it is a quick efficient joy ride, to a smiling cardboard box, taking maybe 6-minutes. Amazon made $4BN of profit last year, and the reason is that digital natives love it. Why can viewers not enjoy the same efficency, as quite simply they just want to view, with the minimumn of friction and time lost, and paying for the convenience – sounds value to me for all the stakeholders.

  3. As both a sales and letting agent, yes it is highly frustrating that you show up to appointments and even after calling they don’t show up. But that’s part and parcel of the job. You vet the buyers before hand which then demonstrates that they have taken the time to speak to a mortgage broker and or bank. Also a paying fee can put a buyer off that vendor then at some point will look at moving to another agent. I’m sorry but the model for me as an agent wouldn’t work

  4. Im sorry why would an agent sign up to this? Never mind the issues raised here, what if 1 local agent charges and another does not on a Multi Listing? Surly the applicant would go to fee free agent. I accept it could work on Sole Agencies but the simplest thing to do is make sure you contact applicant as close to viewing time as possible to make sure they are coming? Even then some dont show up but thats part of the business isnt it?

  5. We welcome PRS comments and future discussions with them to ensure the stewardship of the ViewRabbit technology platform is always transparent, secure and fair for all, including their members.

    Michael Riley
    Founder and CEO
    ViewRabbit

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