Tenant Fees Bill

Written evidence submitted by Michael and Elizabeth Fenton (TFB16)

Tenant Fees Bill

 

Submission to Scrutiny Committee

 

We are West Cornwall Home Office, a single unit family-run property agency in Penzance, Cornwall  established in 1985.

 

We are aware of the way a simple administration fee has been inflated in recent years to become a major strand of income for many agents. The sums charged even in this locality are often exorbitant, with many added extras. Many agents insist on a new Tenancy Agreement every six or twelve months instead of opting for a Periodic Tenancy for settled tenants, and charge additional fees every time. In our opinion these are all serious abuses which bear unfairly on tenants who are often hard-pressed to meet such costs, and such practices should be curtailed with the force of the law. 

 

However there is a place for an administration fee. This covers the agents' work when a tenant has been chosen in principle but no binding agreement exists, and funds the process through to completion which can be very time-consuming. We brought in modest fees reluctantly after experiencing several applicants giving verbal acceptance of a number of properties with various agencies simultaneously (to secure them) and then choosing the one they liked, thus delaying alternative marketing of the others and wasting everyone's time. If an applicant pays an initial fee once they have been accepted subject to references, credit checks, etc, a certain commitment on both sides exists and frivolous applications in our experience no longer occur.

 

We see no reason why the consequence of the current abuses should result in a complete ban on fees. Why should they not be charged on the first tenancy only and pegged at a reasonable sum? Not all agents are rogues, but if fees were pegged at a maximum of, say, £250.00 and the public made aware of the fact the object of this Bill would still be achieved, and the excessive and unfair charges that tenants currently have to face would cease to be legal.  

 

This is surely a simple compromise, respecting the interests of both tenants and agents, worth serious consideration.

 

Regards,

 

Michael Fenton

Elizabeth Fenton

May 2018

    

 

Prepared 4th June 2018