‘UNSCRUPULOUS FEW AT ROOT OF FEES BAN’

25 November 2016

James Hawkesford

Estate agent foresees rising rents following Chancellor’s Autumn Statement

 

A leading Warwickshire estate agent believes the actions of an unscrupulous minority has resulted in the Government’s proposed ban on letting agents charging renters fees.

James Hawkesford, managing director of Hawkesford estate agents, which is based in Leamington, with branches in Warwick and Southam, believes the announcement in Chancellor Philip Hammond’s Autumn Statement will please tenants – but says the shortfall will have to be picked up by someone.

“I think a minority of unscrupulous agents have ruined it for everyone,” said Mr Hawkesford.

“I believe landlords will always want their tenants to be checked to ensure they’re capable of fulfilling their contracts. It may well be that these costs will fall to landlords in the future and, as a result, I can unfortunately envisage rents going up.”

The Association of Residential Lettings Agents (Arla), of which Hawkesford is a member, cited an average annual charge to renters by their licenced agents of £202. These costs are designed to enable agents to carry out various critical checks on tenants before letting a property.

Mr Hawkesford pointed to the fact some agents nationally had charged high fees for actions such as signing new tenancy agreements and completing checks on potential tenants.

He said: “I know many renters have become increasingly frustrated and annoyed at paying what they believe to be extortionate fees, sometimes on an annual basis. Our fees have always been around the £150 mark – and we have never had anyone complain about that – but some have charged upwards of £250.

“This ban has already come into force in Scotland and they have seen rents rise. Without wanting to sound negative, I believe the same could happen here, as checks need to be carried out and the costs incurred need to be absorbed by someone.”

Despite the proposed ban on fees, and possible ensuing rent rises, Mr Hawkesford is positive about the market in and around Leamington.

“The market is very strong and always will be in this area because there are so many jobs here, with major employers such as Jaguar Land Rover, Rolls Royce and Aston Martin on the doorstep. House prices are high, so there will always be demand for affordable rental properties.”