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Mayor refuses to back action on “rip-off” letting agency fees


July 2nd, 2014

The Mayor of London today refused to support proposals that would prevent London’s 800,000 Private Rented tenants being charged fees by letting agents. Under the proposals, landlords would continue to pay charges just as people selling houses pay fees to estate agents.

Under questioning from Tom Copley AM at today’s Mayor’s Question Time, Boris refused to support proposals to ban letting agents from charging high and unpredictable fees, arguing that it was wrong to intervene in the private rental market. Tom Copley cited research from Scotland, where the Government has implemented the policy to the benefit of private rented tenants:

  • Nearly 60% of letting agency managers said that the ban had no impact on their business, and 17% said the change has a positive impact;
  • Renters in Scotland have not reported unexpectedly higher rents than two years ago;
  • 70% of landlords who use letting agents had not noticed an increase in their fees.

Tom Copley AM, London Assembly Labour Group Housing Spokesperson, said:

“For many Londoners the likelihood of owning their home is becoming an ever more distant dream. The reality for these people is a prolonged and indefinite stay in London’s private rented sector, with double digit rent inflation, poor landlord practices and rip-off letting agency fees.

“London’s housing shortage means tenants have few options when it comes to choosing a letting agency. Boris agreed with me that it is excessive for Foxtons to charge tenants a £420 ‘administration fee’ just to sign a standard contract, but has absolutely no interest in doing anything to challenge it. This is a Mayor who only sticks up for those who are out to make a quick buck and has no interest in supporting tenants.

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