30 May 2012

Charging 'Premiums' in the PRS

Credit crunch pennies

EHAP has responded to the recent Scottish Government Consultation on the Charging of Premums in the Private rented Sector.

The Rent (Scotland) Act 1984 regulates the charges that landlords and their agents are able to levy on tenants and prospective tenants, and clearly outlines where such charges may be illegal.

Unfortunately, the practice of charging these Premiums is still common-place across the Private Rented Sector.  Broadly speaking, the only charges that a landlord can properly make to a tenant are for rent and deposit (of not more than two months' rent). Any other charges, such as service or administration charges, are very likely to be unlawful.

The Scottish Government is intending strengthening the prohibition of illegal charges through the implementation of Section 32 of the Private Rented Housing (Scotland) Act 2011.

EHAP strongly supports the view that the charging of these illegal Premiums should be stopped, and we have urged the Scottish Government to more widely publicise exactly what landlords can - and can't! - charge their tenants.

Speaking about the issue, Martin Barnes EHAP's Deputy Service Manager, said:

"We regularly assist tenants and prospective tenants who have been charged illegal fees by letting agents in Edinburgh. This illegal practice is so firmly embedded in the normal operations of letting agencies that many of them do not realise that the fees they are charging are, in fact, illegal.  Likewise, most tenants and prospective tenants do not realise that the fees are illegal - and even when they are aware of this, it is all too often simply accepted that they have to pay these charges or they will be overlooked for the property.  These fees are excessive, unfair and unlawful and we believe the existing law should be clarified and properly enforced."

If you think you may have been charged an illegal premium to take up your tenancy you can seek advice from EHAP.

Contact us on 0845 302 4607, or via the 'Contact' section of this website.

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