By Steve Roulstone


In the past week, several articles have been published which frankly slate my industry for what at best can be described as ‘sharp practises’ This hurts, not only on behalf of my own agency, but also on behalf of all Letting Agents that take their role and profession very seriously.

It is clear that there are real foundations to these reports and the launch of Shelters recent campaign to remove all Tenant charges in the UK is behind the surge in focus. What is being missed is the number of Letting Agents that are professional in how they carry out their business and who as a result of this negative journalism, are seeing their own reputation suffer.

There seems to be a general call from those who are adding their weight behind the criticism for Letting Agents to be regulated or meet the same standards as Estate Agents, but I feel it is time a step back was taken and the current situation looked at with a less reactive eye.

Those who take the time to read my Blog will already be aware, that we wholeheartedly back the call for professional registration of both Agents and Landlords. No argument and nothing more to be said, just a Government needed to be strong enough to introduce the realistic workable legislation.  

But act in the same professional manner as Estate Agents?

Granted they are better regulated (please see the last paragraph) but when I first started most Estate Agents did not get involved in the rental market, seeing it as their poorer relation. Now of course, they dare not ignore it as it has ensured their business is shored up following the collapse of the sales market. But at the time I started, it was also well known that the Agents who charged the greater fees, were indeed Estate Agents who were also involved in the Rental Market.

So here is the rub, over the last few years, nearly all Estate Agents have realised they can no longer ignore 20% of UK housing stock in the private rental sector and during these same years, the complaints about overcharging have grown and grown. Now I may be simply putting 2 and 2 together here, but I think it would be far more informative to see just how many (as a %) of the complaints came as a result of charges levied by Estate Agents who Let, as opposed to Letting agents who do not sell.

There is no doubt that the correct way forward is an open fee structure. Tenants should pay their share of costs, but the key word here is ‘share’. Fees should be transparent and Tenants should not be made to pay additional fees during a Tenancy unless they request a service which should rightly be chargeable.  What is missed is that by charging Tenants a higher percentage of the overall costs, Agents can charge Landlords less and appear to offer cheaper services, but that is another story! In the meantime, let’s do a little more work on those figures, and look a bit closer at which sector is causing Tenants to complain.


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