A North East lettings expert is urging new housing minister Mark Prisk to revisit plans that would regulate letting agents in order to prevent tenants paying excessive administration fees.
Ajay Jagota, managing director at KIS Lettings, is optimistic that Prisk will set in motion his idea for a legislated private lettings sector to ensure huge fees cannot be charged after it emerged this week during a House of Commons debate that he originally wanted to do so in a Bill in 2007.
Ajay said: “I think Mr Prisk’s appointment could be fantastic news for the private lettings industry should he push forward with his former proposal to bring regulation into the sector through legislation.
“What we need is a transparency where fees are concerned and some limitation on what agents can charge tenants.
“The move would help to uncover rogue letting agents around the country that are charging extortionate fees and failing to ensure landlords protect tenants’ deposits.
“At KIS we pride ourselves on being completely transparent and work tirelessly to ensure we are offering tenants one of the best deals in the country with protection for both landlord and tenant secured at the beginning of each new contract.”
This week’s revelation about Prisk’s likely position on letting agent legislation closely follows a victory in Scotland by Shelter. The homeless charity successfully campaigned to introduce Scotland’s first ever Tenancy Deposit Scheme. Under the revised Rent (Scotland) Act, existing tenant deposits must be placed in a scheme before May 2013 and landlords have 30 days from the start of each new tenancy to place deposits in a scheme .
In England and Wales all tenancy deposits paid since April 6 2007 are legally required to be placed in a deposit protection scheme.
At KIS Lettings, which has branches in Sunderland, South Shields and North Shields, Ajay works tirelessly to ensure his business model is transparent and provides watertight protection for tenants and landlords.
Ajay added: “We don’t charge tenant deposits and instead within the administration fee the tenant is getting an insurance product which protects both themselves and the landlord. We’re upfront about the fees we charge and are committed to keeping them low, even our management fee, at five percent, is lower than any other agent.
“Until the lettings market is regulated tenants need to be more vigilant than ever before and find out the full ‘move-in’ fee before handing over any cash. Unfortunately the lack of legislation in what is currently a booming private rented market which is under increasing demand is allowing the more unscrupulous letting agent to charge exorbitant fees.
“In the meantime, I’d also urge any renters that have paid a deposit, either through another agent or direct to their landlord to check that it has been placed in a deposit scheme.”
Any tenant who has paid a deposit can check that it is in a protection scheme by using the tool on Shelter’s website – ‘Is your money safe?’