Greens call for fees ban after discovering letting agents still breaking the law

Lettings agents in the borough of Hackney are continuing to break the law on lettings agency fees, Hackney Green Party has discovered.

Hackney Green Party volunteers visited seven lettings agents and found that six were breaking the law by not displaying their fees in their windows or in their premises.

Under the 2015 Consumer Rights Act lettings agents are required to display their full renting fees prominently in all their offices and on their websites. They are also required to be a member of redress scheme and display evidence of this in their offices.

If a letting agent doesn't comply with these laws, they could receive a fine from the local council of up to £5,000.

Hackney South and Shoreditch PPC Rebecca Johnson said: “We all need secure, affordable homes. For many people in Hackney that means that rents are kept fair and affordable. The Green Party wants to see renters' rights matching those in Europe, which means licensing landlords, banning lettings agency fees and a fair system for secure tenancies and controlled rents.”

Five of the lettings agents had been previously reported to Hackney Council in October 2015, when Green Party volunteers carried out a similar investigation. Information obtained by Green Party Assembly Member Sian Berry showed that Hackney Council has visited a total of six lettings agents and issued three warnings, but has yet to issue a single final notice or levy a fine against any offender. By contrast, Camden Council issued 24 final notices and issued fines of £10,500 to those lettings agents who continued to break the law.

Hackney North and Stoke Newington PPC Alastair Binnie-Lubbock said: “It is disappointing that Hackney Council have failed to take action against lettings agents who are breaking the law. With just a few volunteers, we seem to have visited more lettings agents than the council and found them breaking the law.”

Our findings in detail

The lettings agents visited included:

  • Keatons - No fees list of stickers to say they accredited to anyone. Enquiries made to the staff could not be answered.
  • Kings - No fees list but there was accreditation in the window. Enquired about fees and we were told to go and check the website, where we couldn’t find tenant fees, only fees for landlords renting their properties.
  • Foxtons – There was just one branch displaying clear fees on each listing, but each had an accreditation sticker.
  • Atkinson Mcloed – No mention of any fees on the property cards in the window. Inside, the letting agent verbally told us the fees but provided no print out.
  • Felicity J Lloyd – There was a peculiar explanation of fees on each listing but the calculation didn't seem to cover everything.
  • Big Move in Lower Clapton – No fees displayed. There were extra fees for contract renewal, they weren't clear about VAT and stated that fees were negotiable.
  • Mansion Estates in Lower Clapton – Fees were not displayed, and staff didn’t seem to know about them. On further inspection the fees were framed and hidden away at the back of the room – these were hard to spot and at no stage were pointed out.