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Business briefing: Tenants ‘will save £192m’ from ban on agents’ fees

PRIVATE renters will save more than £190million a year following the ban on excessive fees charged by landlords and letting agents, a study has found.

About 860,000 rental transactions take place annually across the UK, with the average tenant paying £223 in fees.

But under the new legislation landlords will not be permitted to charge arbitrary sums when a tenant moves or renews their tenancy.

The level of charges varied significantly, with renters in big cities paying the most, but analysis of government data found a total saving of £192million.

Tom Woollard, CEO of Bunk, which carried out the research, said: ‘For far too long letting agents have essentially been writing their own rules when it comes to the fees they charge tenants for all manner of things. This has left a very sour taste for many in the rental sector.

‘The ban on tenant fees is undoubtedly a step in the right direction as we now have a clear piece of legislation that letting agents, landlords and tenants can all adhere to with a good level of accountability when this isn’t the case.

‘Until this point, the majority of letting agents have essentially been taking extra money above and beyond any justified fees for no additional work and so the thought that they might try and recoup this “lost” revenue through rental hikes or any other means is quite laughable.’

Before the Tenant Fee Act came into effect on June 1, tenants could face charges for viewings, credit checks, references or setting up a tenancy.

When the ban was introduced in Scotland in 2012 some rents rose as letting agents passed on their losses to landlords, but housing charity Shelter said these were ‘small and short-lived’. A recent survey by Arla, the letting agents’ body, showed that 70 per cent of members were looking to increase their charges to landlords as a result of the ban.

Go go Gogh… for Eurostar’s new service

Euro looking great: The dress marks a new rail service and art exhibit PICTURE: IAN GAVAN

EUROSTAR has unveiled a gown made entirely of sunflowers to celebrate a third direct daily service from London to Amsterdam launching today.

The rail service commissioned the dress by costume designer Kate Tabor to mark the Van Gogh and the Sunflowers exhibition starting in the Van Gogh museum in the Dutch capital next week.

More than 300,000 passengers have travelled on Eurostar’s new route from London to Rotterdam and Amsterdam since it was launched last year.

Fares start at £35 one-way, with journey times from three hours 13 minutes to Rotterdam and three hours 52 minutes to Amsterdam.

Tech giants promise £1billion investment

GLOBAL tech companies have pledged to invest more than £1billion in the UK, Theresa May announced yesterday. Opening London Tech Week, the prime minister also said the government will invest £153million in quantum computing development. ‘British tech is growing over one-and-a-half times faster than the rest of the economy, adding more than £130billion to our economy every year,’ she said. ‘We want this to be the place everyone thinks of — and comes to — first when they want to develop world-changing tech ideas.’

BUSINESS BITES

■ THOMAS Cook is in talks with Chinese firm Fosun about a potential sale of its tour operator business. However, the travel company said there was ‘no certainty’ of a formal offer from the Club Med owner.

■ A MOTHER from Newlyn, Cornwall, has become the first woman to be given the British fishmonger industry’s highest honour. Elaine Lorys, 51, said she was ‘over the moon’ to receive the Master Fishmonger Standard Award.

■ A SLUMP in car manufacturing put the brakes on economic growth in Britain in the three months to April, the Office for National Statistics said. Vehicle production saw a significant decline of 24 per cent in the period.

■ OCADO is investing £17million in vertical farming, where crops are grown indoors on several levels. It bought a major stake in Scunthorpe-based Jones Food Company and is in a joint venture called Infinite Acres.

■ VIRGIN TRAINS has applied to launch a rival rail service between London and Liverpool after losing the West Coast Main Line franchise. It wants to run trains alongside the new franchise holder from 2021.