Rebel tenants successfully boycott renewal fees

Two tenants in Bristol have successfully boycotted their lettings agency’s attempt to charge them renewal fees of £90.

The Bristol Post reports that Nick Ballard and Louie Herbert, who are both members of the tenants union Acorn, refused to pay the fees for the renewal of their contract.

Under the Tenant Fees Act which came into force on June 1, lettings agents are no longer allowed to charge upfront fees to new tenants, however transitional arrangements mean that they can still charge certain fees to tenants who began their contracts before the rules were introduced.

The transitional arrangements mean that the lettings agency CJ Hole was within its rights to charge the renewal fee up until May 31 2020, however Ballard and Herbert felt it was unfair that they should pay given that they would not be charged if they had terminated their tenancy and started a new contract.

The flatmates argued that given their landlord was happy for them to remain in the property and sign a new contract with them, the renewal fees were unjustified.

Ballard and Herbert told the newspaper that in theory they could have been evicted for refusing to pay the fees, but in practice they knew this would be costly.

Given that their landlord did not support an eviction, the agency is unlikely to have been able to pursue such action.

Ultimately, the pair say that CJ Hole allowed them to sign a new contract without demanding the fee.

Herbert told the Post: “The point is anyone could have done this. This means that between now and next summer, everyone renting in Bristol who renews their contract to stay living in a rented property will have to pay lettings agencies just to send out fresh contracts to sign.

“Our demand was for £90, but sometimes they are a couple of hundred pounds. If everyone just simply refused to pay them, as we have done, then this will save tenants across the city tens of thousands of pounds combined.”

Mortgage Strategy contacted CJ Hole for comment.

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