Retrospective on lettingfees.co.uk

  • Letting agents are supposed to display their fees, and they can get fined if they don’t. By collecting these agents, you can pass their details to the council and they might get fined.
  • Transparency is supposed to stop tenants being ripped off, but in reality this doesn’t work. By collecting information about fees and how unresponsive they are to transparency, you can make a stronger case for a change in the system.
  • The large sample size produced a useful range of fees, which reflects a large variation, which raises questions as to why some are able to charge far less than others — a useful line of critique wasn’t just that these fees were expensive, but that seemed to be based on no consistent costs.
  • Tracking individual fees let us discover that letting agents charging for an on-going reference also charged above average core fees. Similarly agents who charged renewal fees were charging more for the initial contract that those who weren’t. This showed that agents who felt able to charge high would do so at any opportunity and this was visible in the numbers.
  • There was a small group of letting agents who were charging for deposit protection — which, because those businesses use deposit money as working capital, meant that some tenants were (perfectly legally) being charged to loan their letting agents money at 0% interest.

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Democracy, data and other things.

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Alex Parsons

Alex Parsons

Democracy, data and other things.

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