Tenancy Fees. Justified or Just A Rip Off?

The Labour Party has launched an attack on the letting agents of this land.

We are, apparently, money-grabbing scum who are making life difficult for “Generation Rent” … people who can’t afford (or choose not) to buy their first home and who therefore have (choose) to rent.

The plan is to ban letting agents from charging tenants a fee for setting them up with a home to live in.

There are other proposals, too, like legislating that a standard tenancy should last three years, rather than the current six months, but as this idea is, in my opinion, totally unworkable (as it is far too long a commitment for most landlords AND tenants), I shall ignore that for the moment.

If I decide to have Sky TV beamed into my home, I will have to pay a set-up cost for the work involved in getting 900 channels of rubbish to appear on my wall-mounted flat-screen set (which I will have bought from a store that bizarrely would have charged me more than they paid for it in the first place. How unfair is that?).

If I want to go on holiday, I fully expect the cost I pay for flights and hotels to include a sum for the High Street travel agency that I booked the trip through. Otherwise they would probably not be able to afford to exist.

When I call a plumber to identify why the water pressure in my shower is not as powerful as it was last week, I fully expect to pay a call out fee. I may not like it, but I do expect it.

If I were one of the lucky “Own Generation” who could afford to buy a home, I would not be entirely surprised, once I’d got through all the questions about how often I have my hair cut (not very often as it happens) and how many times I eat steak, to be told I would have to pay an arrangement fee to secure a mortgage.

So when I apply to rent a home to live in, with all the risks that are attached to the owner of the property (Will I always pay the rent on time so that they can pay their mortgage? Will I pay for utilities like gas, water and electricity? Will I look after the place or will I daub black paint randomly about the place, break all the appliances and set up an illegal forestry in the attic?), does it not stand to reason that I should be checked out for my suitability? And isn’t it reasonable to expect this work to be chargeable?

I don’t think I’d find it unreasonable to pay a fee to be checked out. And, certainly, we haven’t found that any of the tenants we’ve put into properties over the last six years have ever objected.

But then, they know that they’re not going to be charged anything else by us once the tenancy has started.

What? No renewal fee? Well, no, actually.

Once an assured shorthold tenancy comes to the end of its initial term, it can be left well alone to become periodic (some might say month-to-month, although that’s not strictly accurate).

Why should we charge a renewal fee for renewing something that is not necessary? Well… we perhaps shouldn’t. Which is why we don’t. And never have.

So, @Ed_Miliband and @EmmaReynoldsMP … you’re missing the point, really. There is no reason why letting agents shouldn’t be paid a REASONABLE fee for setting up a home for someone to live in and enjoy.

If you want to make yourselves popular with “Generation Rent”, go after the agents who charge unreasonably. And those who charge renewal fees when there is no need.