The first of many successes…

GUSRC’s victory over illegal flat fees

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A couple of weeks ago a friend of mine approached me for advice as she was looking for a flat in the West End. She had gone to view a flat that was advertised through a local letting agent. Following the viewing she was given further information about the flat; included details of holding fees and administration fees which she would have to pay if she wanted to proceed with renting the flat.

As I hope most students know now; these fees are illegal and you do not have to pay them. I am concerned that students are paying these illegal fees without realising. Student finances are already tight and issues like this can cause further and unnecessary stress to students lives.

The SRC Advice Centre wrote to the letting agents outlining our concerns that these fees are considered illegal premiums under the Rent (Scotland) Act 184, which defines a premium as follows:

“Any fine, sum or pecuniary (financial) consideration, other than the rent, and includes any service or administration fee or charge”

We then asked them to amend the information they were giving to prospective tenants. We are very pleased to hear, after consultation with their lawyers, the letting agency are changing their documentation to comply with the law. We agreed that we would not publicise the name of the letting agent if they addressed our concerns, which they appear to have done. We are really appreciative of the action they are taking and have therefore not mentioned who we have been working with.

We will be monitoring the situation closely in future.

If you have paid any extra fees on top of deposits or rent I’d advise you to pop into the Advice Centre and have a chat with them about how you can reclaim these fees.

Further information can be read on the SRC Advice Centre page on Unfair Terms, Fees & Your Deposit and in the Scottish Government news article about the “End to illegal charges on tenants”