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Tenant fees debate kicks off again over ‘unfair’ referencing charges

Students claim letting agencies who charge £25 to provide references for landlords are taking advantage of a 'loophole'.

Nigel Lewis

dundee tenant fees ban

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.

jake mace tenant fees banSomewhat 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.

Read more about the tenant fees ban.

March 22, 2021

One comment

  1. By all means Jake can come and do a work placement with my letting agent, If he still feels that the £25 fee is “unfair” then I am sure agents will be open to this. however, once you realise that the effort for referencing, receiving G/tor forms etc and the cost of using a company such as Homelet for credit checks I am confident Jake will realise that this fee is actually far to small to make agents any money at all and does not even go as far as to cover 1/10th the cost of the action.

    All this serves to do is shame agents in a time of serious austerity when most are bending over backwards to help tenants, we are hugely out of pocket after both the fees ban, client money protection scheme changes and now having to practically close our doors for nearly a near with hardly any government support. when you finance a car you are charged a huge arrangement fee, when you apply for a mortgage you pay thousands in arrangement fees, £25 to check the legitimacy of a persons application is a small fee especially when you consider that most tenants lie about their circumstances which is why the fee is charged in the first place.

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