Call us today on 0141 552 9193
GLP News

News, Comment & Opinions on the latest legal stories

Glasgow Law Practice White

Practice made perfect

Illegal Rent Fees Being Charged in Scotland

An investigation from the BBC has found that some letting agents are charging illegal fees to private tenants despite rent laws being clarified by the Scottish Government less than three years ago.

However, according to data from Shelter Scotland, since the laws have been changed around 1,500 people have tried to claim almost £250,000 since the legal framework was clarified, and the group believes that more landlords are still trying to charge such fees through reference checks, credit checks and inventory fees.

Extra Fees

The study from the BBC found that there were many examples of illegal fees and although some of them were not at a high cost, for those buying a property or first time buyers, the fees were relatively large. The media report from the BBC found that one tenant had found the flat she wished to move into but was told by the tenant that although she had a decent chance of obtaining the flat, she had to pay a reference check of £55 to be guaranteed to get the property. She also had to pay a deposit on top of the reference check to get the flat.

This comes despite the Scottish Government clamping down on the illegal fees that many tenants and potential homeowners find themselves subjected to. Director of Shelter Scotland, Graeme Brown, said letting agents were continuing to charge “illegal” fees despite the best efforts of the government. He said: “This is only the cases that have come to our attention, and given the fact there are 312,000 people now in the private rented sector, we suspect this is a far bigger problem [than the statistics reflect].”

Many people in the BBC study were aware that the fees they were charging were illegal, however, they did not wish to risk losing the flat.

Illegal Premiums

If any tenant was forced to pay any fee to obtained the lease to the flat legal action could be taken as this is an illegal premium to a landlord. Any non-refundable holding deposits are normally paid by tenants but they are to guarantee the obligations under the lease.

However a tenant should not need to pay in order to get the lease in the first place, especially if the payment will not be returned. In the eyes of the law, both payments are deemed as illegal premiums.

Following the report Police Scotland released a statement stating that they will investigate any claims of such fees as a criminal matter and report any incident to the procurator fiscal.

David Cox, managing director of the Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA), said: “We are operating in a two-tier market at the moment…a small minority of agents are flouting the law, knowing that they’re not being properly enforced, and knowing they can probably get away with it.

“It’s why we’re urging the Scottish Government and Westminster to take a much greater regulatory approach to lettings agents. Scotland is already a long way down that line, but there’s still more work to do.”

The Scottish Government said: “We are currently working to…introduce a robust framework for the regulation of letting agents.”

Buying a Property in Scotland

At The Glasgow Law Practice we can provide you with a solicitor to guide you through many of the legal processes involving property. Whether it be a buy-to-let scheme, conducting a home report, buying a property, negotiating a lease (or a property price) or even if it is a property dispute with a tenant or a neighbour, our team of solicitors can help.

Contact Us

If you require legal advice over buying, selling or any other property matter, contact us today using our online contact form.