The lettings fee ban to tenants, announced in last week’s Autumn Statement, will provide a boost to online agents, believes StudentTenant.com.
The student rental platform has found that almost every single letting agent charges their tenants a fee. This ranges from a whopping £420 admin fee with a series of additional fees on top, to around £75 at the cheaper end of the scale.
StudentTenant.com, which is free for landlords, believes the lettings fee ban will cause the high street rental sector to diminish, with online agents excelling as a result. It plans to expand its operation to cater to this demand.
The firm’s Managing Director, Danielle Cullen, explains: “High street agents claim they have local knowledge and more people on the ground offering enhanced services in order to justify their extortionate fees. Here at StudentTenant.com, we really struggle to see that being the case. There is absolutely no justification for such exploitation and the rise of the online property sector, along with this latest Government announcement, will leave these agents exposed.”
Of course there is some work and cost involved in sourcing and securing tenants, but StudentTenant.com insists that high street agents will find creative ways to pass over the fees, as was seen in Scotland when it banned lettings fees, to pass all or a proportion of the tenant fees to the landlord, which will push up rents.
With the explosion of online estate agents in the sales sector, StudentTenant.com says it is clear that online letting agents are the future, and the lettings fee ban will only accelerate this.
The immediate impact of the ban has already been felt across the industry, with many high street agents starting a petition to remove the ban and introduce a cap.
Cullen continues: “As we see it, the traditional letting agents, with their high costs, won’t be able to compete with the online alternatives and their transparent proposition. It’s yet another industry that technology is disrupting. Smaller high street agents will be tightly bound by charging higher fees, due to their expensive and unnecessary overheads.
“With all of this in mind and the current opportunity that has been presented, StudentTenant.com will be launching ClickTenant.com at the start of next year to offer a fairer proposition for all landlords – not just those in the student sector – and we expect to compete with the high street letting agents in the residential market, if not overtake them.”