The debate about the fairness of renewal fees is not new however, now that the OFT has formally joined the argument by taking Foxtons to court
the question of whether or not renewal fees are actually unlawful is being scrutinized by many landlords and other interested parties.
Renewal fees charged by letting agents often run into many thousands of pounds and this is especially the case in London and the South East where high charges are commonplace. When the amount of renewal fees that have been paid by landlords over a 6 year period are added up the actual money haded over to letting agents can reach tens of thousands of pounds. It is not a surprise then that lots of private landlords are getting out their calculators and investigating whether these charges can be claimed back using the same legal argument being used by the OFT regarding unfair bank charges.
From a legal perspective the OFT is currently challenging Foxtons in court over the fee stuctures in its contracts with private landlords asserting that they represent 'money for nothing' and as such represent an unfair and unreasonable contract clause. Under consumer contract law fees must be justifiable and lawful if they are not they are open to be challenged and past fees already handed over to the letting agent within a 6 year period can be asked to be returned to the landlord.
Many landlords are already refusing to pay renewal fees and the reaction from letting agents is mixed. Some letting agents are simply doing nothing, others are threatening to sue landlords in the small claims courts and part settlement amounts are being reached elsewhere.
Hutcheon Solicitors, operators of the Rent Management Service, are providing a free legal assessment
to assess whether a landlord has a case for reclaiming any tenancy renewal fees that have been paid to letting agents over the last 6 years. The firm can also represent the landlord in this capacity when dealing with the letting agent to request the return of any renewal fees paid.
Private landlords interested in chatting with Hutcheon Solicitors about renewal fee issues should contact us by calling our free advice line on 0800 083 0626 or chat online with a Rent Management Service advisor using the live chat button on the top right of this page. Alternatively, landlords can simply complete a contact request form by clicking here.