Two tenants who refused to pay a contract renewal fee of £90 to their letting agent even though their tenancy is not yet covered by the fees ban legislation have been allowed to sign a new contract without paying.
Nick Ballard and Louie Herbert, who together rent a property in the Eastville area of Bristol, were told by letting agency CJ Hole that they would each have to pay a renewal fee when their contract came up for renewal.
But the pair, who are both housing crisis campaigners within the city and involved in its Acorn renters union, said it was unfair that someone starting a new contract would not have to pay the £90, and yet those renewing their contract do have to pay.
“We thought we’d just flat out refuse to pay it and see what happened,” Herbert told local media.
“They maintained them charging us a renewal fee was still legal and would be legal until the end of May next year.
“We pointed out we were happy to simply sign a fresh contract, our landlord was happy to sign a fresh contract, and that’s all there was to it – there is no justification for them to charge us £90 for that.”
The pair said they reasoned that CJ Hole and the landlord would not go through the expensive and time-consuming process of evicting them for the sale of £190, particularly as the pair say they have been paying their rent on time and in all other ways are normal tenants.
The tactic worked. Herbert says CJ Hole has maintained its right to charge the fee, but dropped its demands for payment and asked them to sign a fresh contract regardless.