What is the campaign?
The private rental sector is one of the last remaining markets where consumers are woefully underprotected. Citizens Advice is campaigning for better protections for private renters. We believe that no renter should ever have to pay excessive and inexplicable fees for the basic service a letting agent provides. We want to see an end to extortionate fees levied on renters by letting agents.
What research did the Forest of Dean Bureau do?
As a result of the new Consumer Rights Act that was passed on 27th May 2015, all letting agents must now publicise:
- All of the fees that they charge for renting a property privately, including those that may not be calculable at the time
- Who you can complain to if the letting agent provides poor service
- Whether they are a member of a client money protection scheme or not.
As a result of this, the bureau turned into a mystery shopper and surveyed all of the local letting agents in the Forest of Dean to see if they are complying with this new law.
What the bureau found out
- The bureau found out that 5 out of the 8 letting agents in the Forest of Dean have some form of compliance with this law – in the sense that they publish their fees on their property brochures, however they aren’t always visible in the office.
- Only one of the letting agents complies with the law fully. When asked, one other letting agent was fully aware of their legal obligation to publicise their fees.
- There were 2 letting agents that didn’t comply with the new Consumer Rights Act.
The 2 letting agents which weren’t complying with the law have now been reported via the Citizens Advice tool to Trading Standards so that it can be given further consideration.
In December, the mystery shopping will resume to see if there have been any improvements in the 2 letting agents that weren’t complying with the law and also to see if those who were only partially complying are in full compliance.