Will the proposed letting agency fee ban actually benefit the student market?

Feb 2018The Student Life

In November 2017 it was announced that the government are planning to scrap letting agency fees, which on the surface would appear to be a positive change for students who are struggling to make their maintenance loan stretch throughout their time at University. However, questions have been raised surrounding whether this shift would actually have a positive impact on those affected, which has resulted in the creation of a petition set to reverse the proposed letting agency fee ban. We decided that the best way to get an informed student opinion on this issue would be to speak to you, and here’s what we found…

Jim from Cardiff University stated, “We spent about £130 on an agency fee, on top of a deposit.” Students can be expected to pay between £50-£150 each in letting agent fees when signing for a house, and especially with larger groups these fees can amount to a significant payment. This means many students will have to fork out over £500 at a time, simply to secure a house for the following year. This lump sum can be fairly detrimental to their bank balance, especially if signing for their house near the end of a semester. But will the elimination of agency fees actually save students money in the bigger picture?

The main reason a petition has been created to ban the ban, is because of the opinion that although students may save money on fees at the time of signing for the house, letting agents are still going to have to get their money from elsewhere, as these fees make up to 25% of their revenue. In turn, they’ll charge landlords higher fees, and landlords will in thus have to increase rent prices to cover these costs. As stated by student Trai “In the long run we will probably end up paying even more” as landlords will raise monthly payments which are likely to exceed the sum of agency fees they would have paid in the first place. This is why the debate is fired up surrounding whether there is any point in the proposed ban as it is giving students a false sense of security.

The lack of knowledge around this stance is evident, as many students we spoke to stated that they felt under-informed about the issue, including Monica who said: “I’ve not had the time to go out and research to find out more about it” which suggests that influential student platforms haven’t discussed the issue in enough depth. If more student media sources picked up on the subject, students may be able to make an increasingly informed opinion and make the right decision on whether to support or oppose the ban.

There is also a further argument being introduced to some agents, who wish to tackle the issue with a more progressive approach which mutually benefits both themselves and their student market. Rather than passing fees over landlords, they would instead change their properties to include bills, and charge for the convenience of this service. Although this means students may ultimately be paying the same as previously with, all things considered, they will also save time stress by not having to sort out their bills themselves – which can be a large chore for many students. But what is more important, time or money? That’s for you to decide, and with the petition to reverse the ban already gaining over 9.5K signatures, the debate is set to continue.

Watch our full video here to see what the students of Cardiff University have to say…

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