CROYDON NORTH MP Steve Reed is calling on Croydon council to regulate lettings agents in the borough after research showed “scandalously high” fees being charged to prospective tenants.
The research, carried out by Mr Reed’s office, shows that even before the deposit and first month’s rent are due, some tenants are being asked to pay over £1,000 in additional fees and charges by unregulated lettings agents. Some prospective tenants are forced to pay a fee to register with the lettings agent and to view properties despite landlords also being charged a finder’s fee for securing a property.
Other fees include up to £500 for ‘handling the deposit’ and further administration fees of almost £500.
Current Government rules protect home-owners from rogue estate agents but renters are not protected in the same way, says a statement from Mr Reed’s office.. Earlier this year, Labour demanded government support for regulation of private lettings agents in a bid to tackle excessive and unfair fees like these, but Tory and Lib Dem MPs voted the plans down.
“There is a housing crisis across the country and it’s particularly acute here in Croydon. This research shows that tenants are being forced to pay excessive and unfair fees just to put a roof over their heads” said Mr Reed.
“This rip-off culture among lettings agencies must end. “Labour wants to see tough regulation of lettings agents but the Government has voted down Labour’s proposals at every turn. “Hard-pressed residents in Croydon are having their pockets picked while the Government and our Tory council stand back and do nothing.
“The housing shortage is pushing more and more people into private rented accommodation. “We need action now to curb these exorbitant fees and charges that are hitting people who don’t have any money to spare.”
Labour’s motion from the House of Commons, voted against by Croydon’s two Conservative MPs but supported by Steve Reed MP
“That this House recognises the private rented sector’s growing role in meeting housing need; notes that there are 8.5 million people, including more than one million families with children, now renting privately; recognises there are major implications of the growth in this tenure for families and communities in Britain today; notes with concern the lack of protection afforded to tenants and landlords by the unregulated lettings market and the confusing, inconsistent fees and charges charged by letting and management agents; further notes the lack of stability, security and affordability for families and other renters; further notes the increasing number of complaints about rogue landlords and the poor standards in the sector compared with other tenures; calls on the Government to regulate residential lettings and management agents and to end the confusing, inconsistent charges regime, making fees easily understandable, upfront and comparable across agents; further calls on the Government to promote longer term tenancies where tenants want them; and finally calls on the Government to introduce a national register of landlords and empower local authorities to improve standards and deal with rogue landlords.”
LANDLORD FINED FOR FAILING TO CARRY OUT NECESSARY REPAIRS
Landlords who failed to carry out necessary repair work to a house they rented to a mother and her children were fined £1000 and ordered to pay £922 plus £100 victim surcharge in costs at Bromley Magistrates’ Court on 19 June 2013.
Afzal Ahmed and Rashma Ahmed did not carry out the required work to their property in Mosul Way, Bromley which resulted in Bromley council having to issue an improvement notice detailing several defects and deficiencies which needed addressing. Mr and Mrs Ahmed were fined for failure to comply with the council’s notice after submitting a guilty plea.
Executive member for public protection and safety Cllr. Tim Stevens said: “We want to make absolutely sure that tenants are safe in homes they rent from private landlords and so we will take firm action to make sure the landlords meet their statutory duty to ensure their properties are in a reasonable condition. “In this case, the landlords did not comply with our improvement notice and so we had no choice but to take them to court. “I hope this will serve as a warning to others who attempt to flout the law in this way.” (Source: Bromley council press release)
NEW HOUSING FORUMS FOR TENANTS TO HAVE THEIR SAY
COUNCIL TENANTS AND LEASEHOLDERS are being invited to meet their housing officers at a series of quarterly open meetings where they can share ideas or discuss any concerns.
The housing services forums will take place quarterly with separate events for residents in the north and south of the borough. Meetings will be informal and mainly consist of open discussions and question and answer sessions.
The first meeting for the north area housing services forum took place on Wednesday July 10th; the first for the south area will be held on Wednesday July 24th.
A drop in surgery will take place before the meetings, where residents can discuss any personal issues related to housing, such as repairs to their own property, or issues with their rent.
Both meetings will be held at the town hall from 7pm to 9pm, with the surgery at 6pm.
Cllr Dudley Mead, cabinet member for housing, said: “Our new housing forums will be a great chance for tenants and leaseholders to come together and tell the council about any housing issues they are having.
“The two meetings this month are the first in a series of quarterly events, and we hope to see as many people come along as possible.”
If you are not sure which forum to attend, or would like further details, call 020 8726 6100 and ask to speak to the resident involvement team or visit www.croydon.gov.uk