AGENT’S VIEW: tenant fees ban is unpopular, but it WILL weed out rogue operators

Lettings Manager Ashley Clements of West London agency Horton and Garton reveals what he thinks the looming tenant fees ban means for his business, and the wider industry.

Is your agency braced for the impact of the tenant fee ban? One of the most contentious and unpopular changes to legislation among lettings agents, addressing the subject seems to be akin to completing your tax return: daunting, time consuming and costly.

But for me it’s all about perspective.

As legislation changes come into effect, the need to adapt and implement new processes within the private rental sector is pressing.

The ban is coming into place because rogue agencies charge excessive fees – which could prove to be their downfall when they begin to lose income.

The effect of this bit of Darwinism inevitably translates into a greater market share for honest agencies.

The tenant fees ban will force business performance reviews across the nation; it certainly has for Horton and Garton.

A sharpened focus on customer service and retention of business means that our like-for-like revenue continues to grow while attracting new landlords expands our market share.

Every lettings professional will approach the tenant fees ban differently but I expect your action plan will be based around.

  • Knowing the level of income currently generated from tenant fees and anticipating this loss
  • Reviewing and streamlining in-house systems and processes, ensuring each desk is working as efficiently as possible
  • Exploring options to diversify in areas that will provide new income
  • Being better and doing more than your competition, winning new business and increasing market share

To date there is no legislation in place to regulate agents, but the tenant fees ban is a positive step towards further professionalising the industry.

I’ve heard well-articulated arguments against the ban including how hard agents must  work  to guide tenants through the process of setting up a new tenancy, and the risk of rental values increasing as landlords seek to recover the increased administration costs on their side.

Yes, other measures such as a fees cap might have been more palatable and sensible, but at the time of writing it appears a full ban will be going ahead.

Honey tomorrow

The fact remains that tenants today expect more than ever before. And we will continue to provide the highest standard of customer service, sometimes based on ‘no bread today but honey tomorrow’.

A recent example for Horton and Garton was a new tenant registration – she was looking for a one bedroom flat to rent.

Although this applicant went on to rent via another agency she was so impressed with the service she received from our office that she has since instructed us to let her large investment house on a fully managed basis.

Agents often claim to go ‘The Extra Mile’ for their landlords and tenants. The minute you start to walk that long mile, you’ll reap the rewards – short-sightedness is no longer an option.

In a variable marketplace with impactful legislation on the horizon, embrace the changes, stay positive and have patience – safe in the knowledge that the fittest agencies will come out on top.

Read more guest blogs from Horton and Garton.

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