The Students' Representative Council (SRC) have published a report which shows that a number of letting agencies in Glasgow are illegally charging administration fees, credit check fees and"holding deposits" to prospective tenants.
Under the Rent (Scotland) Act 1984, it is illegal for letting agencies to charge a tenant for anything other than rent and a deposit, and section 90 (1) of the Act states that charging those types of fees in relation to a tenancy constitutes as a statutory criminal offence.
Despite this, many agencies have confirmed on their own websites, and in documentation provided to prospective tenant, that they charge for administration costs, credit checks and "holding deposits". The report by the SRC highlights the illegal charges made by various letting agencies in Glasgow, showing that 58 per cent of agencies continue to charge prospective tenants holding deposits to “reserve” a property.
The SRC contacted 31 agencies in Glasgow in July 2015, asking them to complete a survey on their current practices in relation to renting properties to students and fees payable by prospective tenants. This was followed by a series of telephone enquiries to the same agencies between August and September 2015.
The SRC’s report highlights multiple illegal fees charged to tenants, including a £60 to carry out a credit check, 5 per cent of the monthly rent to prepare an inventory, and one agency, Zone Letting, charging £120 as a “preemptive” cleaning fee to cover the cost of cleaning the property at the end of the tenancy.
SRC president Liam King said: “This investigation confirms our experiences that there are a significant number of letting agencies in Glasgow that are exploiting students, and particularly students from outwith Scotland many of whom are not aware of their rights".
The SRC urges prospective tenants, faced with these types of fees, to seek advice from the SRC Advice Centre before signing up to a tenancy agreement.