Agents who think the debate over the tenant fees ban is dead and buried may be surprised by developments in Scotland.
Students in Dundee have launched a campaign after many complained that local lettings agencies were charging tenants for referencing which, although allowed under Scotland’s tenant fees ban legislation – as it is in England – are unfair, it is claimed.
The city’s student renters union has launched a campaign to persuade local lettings agents to drop the fees, which are generally £25 to complete a reference. It claims the fee is too high ‘for five minutes work’ and that it’s part of a letting agent’s job and shouldn’t be charged for.
Somewhat dramatically, leader Jake Mace (pictured) has told local media that the £25 charge is an example of tenants being ‘fleeced’ by lettings agencies in the area.
“They should not be able to do it,” he told The Courier newspaper.”
“I think it’s a real moral affront. As much as it’s legal, it’s not what is intended in law.
“We believes it is time to shake up the system to be fair to renters, and oust unscrupulous landlords and letting agencies for good.”
As in England, all fees or ‘premiums’ as the Scots call them are banned other than rent and a deposit. Mydeposits Scotland says such fees would include general administration costs, fees for setting up a lease agreement, tenant reference fee or the cost of the preparation of a check-in inventory report.
“Therefore, if a landlord or agent attempts to charge a compulsory fee in relation to the granting, renewal or continuance of a lease, that fee is unlawful under Scottish law.”
But the key word there is ‘compulsory’. The agents in Dundee have been asking tenants students for references but, when invariably they are unable to provide them, then offer to do it for them, for a price as an alternative.
One of the agents named by Mace, AKG Property Group, told local media that the £25 fee was justified ‘because of the time involved’ to complete the task.