Charity campaign targets unlawful letting charges
Shelter Scotland is launching a new campaign to help private sector tenants reclaim fees unlawfully charged by letting agents.
The charity is launching a website – reclaimyourfees.com – which will provide advice and a step-by-step guide to help private tenants reclaim charges for things such as credit checks, reference checks, preparing and checking an inventory and other upfront fees.
Alongside the website, a Reclaim Your Fees campaign team will tour some of Scotland’s largest cities and universities to give advice on unlawful fees and how to deal with unscrupulous agents who break the law.
There are an estimated 500 letting agent businesses in Scotland, involving around 150,000 private lettings every year. The Scottish Government is currently consulting on how to clarify the law to make it clear exactly what an unlawful premium is.
Shelter Scotland claimed misinterpretation of the law under section 82 of the Rent (Scotland) Act 1984 of what should be classed as a premium and how to deal with agents who break the law is leaving thousands of people open to unfair treatment and financial exploitation.
Graeme Brown, director of Shelter Scotland, said: ‘More than 272,650 families and individuals in Scotland call the private rented sector home, and that number is rising. That some letting agents – established and new – are routinely ripping off tenants by charging extortionate and unjustified upfront fees is shocking and quite simply exploitative.
‘They are not only ripping off people who need a roof over their head and who, in many cases, have little or no choice but to pay up, but they are also undermining the work of good letting agents who offer a fair deal to tenants.’