Scotland’s private tenants being ripped-off

Such high fees can be illegal under section 82 of the Rent (Scotland) Act 1984 and are a giant obstacle for prospective tenants to overcome when they already face paying rent and a deposit before they even get the keys to their new home.

Disproportionate fees by unscrupulous letting agents for credit checks, drawing up a lease and renewing a tenancy are making it even tougher for hard-pressed people to find affordable accommodation in the private rented sector (PRS). The charges are particularly unjustified considering that landlords are often also paying agents for the same services.

Graeme Brown, Director of Shelter Scotland, says:

“That some letting agents – established and new – are charging extortionate and unjustified upfront fees is shocking.  They are not only ripping off desperate people who need a roof over their head and who, in many cases, have little or no choice but to pay up, but they are also undermining the work of good letting agents who offer a fair deal to tenants.

“New legislation clarifies tenant’s rights and the government must make it clear that all charges above rent and a reasonable deposit are unlawful. Only then will tenants, and indeed landlords, be assured that they are not being exploited.”
 
Current legislation leaves people who make up so-called ‘Generation Rent’ – who have little prospect of owning their own property – exposed to exploitation by letting agents. People who have little choice but to rent are often so desperate to secure a tenancy that they have little choice but to pay up to these agents.

Thousands of people are leaving themselves open to unfair treatment and financial exploitation simply because they are not aware these charges are illegal. New laws should be introduced to make it clear that all charges to tenants are unlawful.

Graeme Brown added:

“Times are hard enough for many people right now and the last thing they need is to be fleeced by unscrupulous letting agencies in their search for a home.”

Have your say on this story using the comment section below

7 thoughts on “Scotland’s private tenants being ripped-off

  1. Scott Kerr

    The content of this article has completely obscured the facts. The facts are that letting agents / landlords in Scotland only charge the same fees and in most cases less fees than their counterparts in the rest of the UK. It would be interesting for Shelter to compile and publish those comparisons. Legislation in Scotland is creating an unfair playing field for Scottish agents /landlords and must be challenged through the European Courts for fair trade. It has to be highlighted that agents and landlords in Scotland are not charities. They are businesses with an aim to produce and maximise profit. It must also be highlighted that tenants are not forced to let a property or pay the fees. If a tenant feels that an agents fees are too high, they can simply walk away. If an agent offers premium properties then they have a right to charge premium fees, it is basic economics. Agents and landlords have always used affordability as a measure as to the calibre of a tenant. If a tenant cannot afford the fees then they shouldnt get the keys. Can I suggest that Mr Brown sticks to his charity work and allows entrepreneurs to manage businesses.

  2. Alex

    I agree with Scott, Charity Do-gooders should gather all the facts, not just those, that suit their cause, before shooting thier mouth off.

    I wonder how the Author thinks these cost should be covered.

    Well said Scott

  3. Grant

    Interesting that the above commentators are quick to shoot down the charity for raising this issue.

    I actually took the time to read the report – these letting agents are double charging tenants and landlords for the same things and then charges a 400% mark up on credit checks etc.

    There is no competition and a kind of omerta within the sector about the way these letting agents are ripping us off.

    Well done Shelter, time for the landlords to take action against these cowboys

  4. Scott Kerr

    Thank you Grant. This is why we do not live in a communist country. Landlords do not have to use the services of an agent and neither do tenants. If you do not agree with an agents fee structure then simply walk away. I do not agree with the terminology “rip off” or “cowboys”. If an agent was a cowboy and did rip off clients then market forces would soon put him or her out of business. I offer premium properties. I also offer a premium front end service to potential tenants, airport collection, multiple viewings, use of my business centre, lunch and any other administration services that they may require. Recently I carried out a logistical exercise with an airline calculating travel times between various properties and the crew room at various times of day. Why should I provide my services free of charge?

  5. Scott

    I think the point that the above posters is missing is that the Rent (Scotland) Act 1984 CLEARLY states:

    s 82 – Prohibition of premiums and loans on grant of protected tenancies.

    (1) Any person who, as a condition of the grant, renewal or continuance of a protected tenancy, requires, in addition to the rent, the payment of any premium or the making of any loan (whether secured or unsecured) shall be guilty of an offence under this section.

    (2) Any person who, in connection with the grant, renewal or continuance of a protected tenancy, receives any premium in addition to the rent shall be guilty of an offence under this section.

    Seems pretty clear to me!

    As a private landlord I also know that a full tenant/credit check can be obtained from the National Landlords Associaton for around £30 per person so why do agencies charge £70 or more? It’s a money making scheme – pure and simple!

    On the plus side it’s better for me that the agencies charge these silly fees as I can attract more viewers to my properties by advertising that there are NO FEES payable!

  6. Scott

    I think the point that the above posters is missing is that the Rent (Scotland) Act 1984 CLEARLY states:

    s 82 – Prohibition of premiums and loans on grant of protected tenancies.

    (1) Any person who, as a condition of the grant, renewal or continuance of a protected tenancy, requires, in addition to the rent, the payment of any premium or the making of any loan (whether secured or unsecured) shall be guilty of an offence under this section.

    (2) Any person who, in connection with the grant, renewal or continuance of a protected tenancy, receives any premium in addition to the rent shall be guilty of an offence under this section.

    Seems pretty clear to me!

    Why does it matter that agents in Scotland are charging the same as their counterparts in the UK? The Rent Scotland Act does not apply in the rest of the UK!

    As a private landlord I also know that a full tenant/credit check can be obtained from the National Landlords Associaton for around £30 per person so why do agencies charge £70 or more? It’s a money making scheme – pure and simple!

    On the plus side it’s better for me that the agencies charge these silly fees as I can attract more viewers to my properties by advertising that there are NO FEES payable!

  7. Simon Childs

    Yes, the fairness or otherwise of these fees has little to do with it. They are illegal, pure and siimple, and any agencies that charge them are breaking the law. If the first commentators above believe they are reasonable they should campaign for a change in that law.

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