Tenant Fees Bill

Written evidence submitted by Urban Patchwork (TFB15)

To whom it may concern

 

We are a residential sales and lettings agent based in London SE16 and would like to express our support for the proposals in the Tenant Fee Bill.

 

We agree that no fees should be charged to tenants. As a self-funded start-up organisation that needs to cover costs, until the Tenant fee Act comes into effect, we are only charging for services we have to pay a third party for: tenant referencing and check-in. We do not charge tenants for the production of the tenancy agreement and we do not charge any renewal fees. We take this approach to help support people in affording quality accommodation in London.

 

We also agree that a tenant deposit should not be more than 6 weeks’ rent. We did want to reduce it further as an organisation, but from experience, some people don’t pay their last month’s rent, so that it can be taken from their security deposit, so it is important to have some additional funds left over after that in case of any damage needing to be covered. We also welcome new insurance and cash-flow buffer products for tenants and landlords that help tenants fund a deposit.

 

We agree that: The Government should amend Schedule 1, paragraph 3, and Schedule 2, to clarify that holding deposits can be paid to letting agents as well as landlords, and recognise you have accepted this recommendation.

 

We welcome any guidance the government can provide to letting agents, tenants and landlords.

 

We agree that Landlords should only be able to charge a varied level of rent if this has been agreed with the tenant subsequent to the tenancy being entered into – any increase to the rent during a contract should be tied to a formula set out in the contract.

 

We agree with capping charge at £50 or reasonable costs for changes during a tenancy.

 

We agree that agents should be permitted to charge tenants for payments in relation to utilities, communication services and council tax payments.

 

We agree with your enforcement proposals.

 

More about us

Urban Patchwork is an estate agent social enterprise based by Greenland Dock on the border of Surrey Quays and Deptford. We were founded in spring 2018 by brother and sister team Toby and Tessa who grew up in nearby New Cross, South East London. 

An estate agent social enterprise may sound like an oxymoron but in the widespread calls for both vast improvements to the agency sector and for meeting more housing need, we saw an opportunity for much-needed change.

Our mission is to meet more housing need through providing the same services that many agents provide. We aim to achieve this by:

Providing professional and personable residential sales and lettings services

Continually learning, and applying that learning, to ensure we’re operating in the best way possible (you can read about how we aim to promote best practice here )

Using the majority of our profits for homeless housing and support or reinvesting them in the organisation to ensure we can increase our impact over the longer term.

As a social enterprise, we are a business with a social purpose that will measure our success by our impact across these areas outlined above.

To ensure transparency, within our first eighteen months we want to establish a voluntary board of experts across a range of relevant disciplines. The board will challenge and advise on the direction of the organisation and together with the directors, will have voting rights on how our profits are spent on homeless housing and support projects.

Our vision is to be the go-to organisation for those wanting to buy, sell, let or rent residential property where we operate, while making a meaningful difference to people through funding homeless housing and support projects. 

Best regards

 

Tessa Gooding

Director

 

May 2018

 

Prepared 4th June 2018