Take action against illegal letting agency fees!

September 25th, 2012 | Posted by admin in News - (Comments Off)

Following our recent protest against the letting agency DJ Alexander, they have given in and stopped charging illegal fees! Inspired by this victory, we are having a protest against another rip-off agency in Edinburgh.

We will be setting up a ‘crime scene’ outside the letting agency Edinburgh Spaces on Tuesday 2nd October, at 12pm, as a protest against their illegal fees and charges, which includes £60 of illegal admin fees per tenant, and a £500 ‘checkout charge’, as reported in the Evening News.

Tenants will be dressing up as sheriffs and detectives, as we did at our successful DJ Alexander protest, to draw attention to the fact that the vast majority of letting agencies are still breaking the law.  Please come in costume and in character as well, if you are up for that!

We will be publicising the fact that hundreds of people have been successfully claiming this money back, by threatening small claims actions, and we are urging more tenants to do the same.

These fees have been illegal for nearly thirty years, under the Rents (Scotland) Act 1984, and recently the Scottish Government has confirmed that they are illegal, and is clarifying the law in November. However, letting agencies are continuing to charge tenants for things like ‘administration’, inventories, and credit or referencing checks. There is no excuse for this illegal behaviour, and we are campaigning to stamp this practice out.

The action will take place outside the Edinburgh Spaces offices, at 6 Waterloo Place, on Tuesday 2nd of October, at 12pm.  You can also join the event on facebook.

Tenancy fees defeated – EPTAG declares victory!

August 26th, 2012 | Posted by admin in Uncategorized - (Comments Off)

After a successful campaign by Edinburgh Private Tenants Group the Scottish Government has agreed to clarify that all tenancy fees are illegal. These fees, often totalling several hundred pounds, come in many guises, often called “referencing fees”, “admin fees” or “cleaning fees”.  All of these have been illegal for many years however when EPTAG surveyed letting agents in Edinburgh we found that the vast majority still charge fees, relying on tenants weak position and lack of knowledge as to their legal rights to rip them off.

Of course legislative change clarifying the legal situation is welcome, but what is crucial is enforcement.  Are we going to see letting agents taken to court or fined for charging these fees? Will it be left up to ordinary tenants and their organisations like EPTAG to demand their rights? EPTAG has been protesting against some of the most excessive fees, such as those charged by letting agent DJ Alexander.

Today is a massive victory for tenants, but to ensure that tenancy fees are history we need to keep the pressure up.  To get involved with EPTAG and help support our campaigns, sign up for our email newsletter on the left or contact us to find out when our next meeting is.

MSP Backs Edinburgh Private Tenants

July 31st, 2012 | Posted by admin in Uncategorized - (Comments Off)

MSP Marco Biagi backs EPTAG

My Edinburgh Central constituency is only three miles across, but the best guess from the Scottish Government’s statisticians is that as many as 30,000 people live in it in households where they pay rent to a private landlord. A great many are young, such as those drawn to the city by work opportunities but unable to afford any other form of housing. Families have been increasingly finding themselves in the same situation due to the economic troubles since 2008. Even with the recession the underlying trend for a decade has been for more and more people to rent. The Joseph Rowntree Foundation’s authoritative estimate now is that the number of people under 30 across the UK renting from private landlords will almost triple by 2020 to 3.7 million.

  For the whole of the 1990s and 2000s rising house prices were spoken of as if they were a sign of success. Yet as going rates for property rose faster than incomes it made home ownership more and more unaffordable to those that did not already have it or stand to inherit it. Renting became the default, but a demand for rent that was being pressed ever upwards and a supply that was by its nature much more limited led to an imbalance. Faced with that imbalance there wasn’t a chance that a free market could operate successfully.

So the stories now mount of terrible landlords or particularly greedy letting agencies – and when a roof over your head is such a basic need either of these can blight a day-to-day life. Yet experience from other countries in Europe shows that healthy and functioning private rented sectors are possible on scales even larger than our own, and that they are compatible with fundamentally much more equitable societies than our own as well.

There is now a desperate need for a collective voice for tenants. People who rent need to us at know who to turn to for advice, and a government committed to fundamental reform – and I believe the Scottish Government is – needs to know there is a place they can go to hear their voices and experiences directly. Shelter is a fine organisation, but its image is that of a homelessness charity, and moreover it is not structured as a community-led body.

At a local level EPTAG represents the first of what I desperately hope may become a common sight – a group of committed people who have come together to work in common cause. At the EPTAG public meeting in March the impression I took from audience members was an overwhelming sense of relief that they weren’t alone. In Parliament I am pushing for regulatory reform and meanwhile in the city I am eager to help EPTAG in any way I can. Empowering and encouraging tenants when faced with irresponsible landlords is the first step in bringing the system back into something like a balance.

Written by Marco Biagi, an SNP MSP, and a member of the Cross-Party Group in the Scottish Parliament on Housing.

Letting agency fails to silence fees protest

July 20th, 2012 | Posted by admin in News - (Comments Off)

More than 20 tenants picketed the DJ Alexander letting agency on Dundas Street today, as a protest against the charging of illegal fees. In a comical move, the agency hired workers to grind paving slabs and pressure hose pavements in a failed attempt to disrupt the protest.

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Join us and take action against illegal letting agency fees!

July 11th, 2012 | Posted by admin in Uncategorized - (Comments Off)

Edinburgh private tenants are demanding letting agencies stop breaking the law, and will be setting up a ‘crime scene’ outside a well known letting agency on Friday 20th of July, meeting at 11.30am, as a protest against illegal fees and charges.

Tenants will be dressing up as sheriffs and detectives, to draw attention to the fact that the vast majority of letting agencies are breaking the law. Please come in costume and in character as well, if you are up for that!

We will be publicising the fact that hundreds of people have been successfully claiming this money back, by threatening small claims actions, and are urging more tenants to do the same.

These fees have been illegal for nearly thirty years, under the Rents (Scotland) Act 1984, however letting agencies are continuing to charge tenants for things like ‘administration’, inventories, and credit or referencing checks. There is no excuse for this illegal behaviour, and we are campaigning to stamp this practice out.

The exact location and agency which is to be targeted will be kept secret until the day, however the meeting point is St Andrews Square at 11.30am on Friday the 20th July, close to the entrance to the bus station. The letting agency is only a short walk from the meeting point.

The more people out on the streets the more likely it is that we will win this important struggle. Come along and bring your friends!

Rogue landlord receives ban

July 9th, 2012 | Posted by admin in News - (Comments Off)

A victory has been won for the tenants of Edinburgh as the first bad landlord has been banned from renting out any properties whatsoever.

Yousef Mohammed was removed from the landlords’ register at a meeting of the council’s regulatory committee on June 22 this year. He had previously been fined £1000 at Edinburgh Sheriff Court for operating an HMO (house in multiple occupation) without a licence. He had not disclosed his conviction and had continued to rent out properties without a licence to do so.This landmark decision heralds the start of a new, tougher regime at Edinburgh Council and proves the efficiency of EPTAG’s campaign. We have been hard at work lobbying councillors to get improvements in the rental system and put bad landlords out of the rental business – permanently. Our recent public meeting, attended by over 50 people, shows the strength of feeling on this matter.

EPTAG’s work has been noticed in the new council coalition agreement at point 2.7, which promises to enforce tenancy agreements so both tenants and landlords fulfil their responsibilities. We will continue the campaign to get a fairer deal for tenants and stop criminal landlords in Edinburgh, and this is a heartening sign that councillors are sitting up and taking notice.

Student wins back his deposit

June 27th, 2012 | Posted by admin in News - (Comments Off)

eptag successAn Edinburgh student had his deposit illegally withheld by his letting agency for five years. However, following advice from EPTAG, he managed to get his money back.  (more…)

Rent Control for a Living Rent

June 11th, 2012 | Posted by admin in Uncategorized - (Comments Off)

Rents in the private rented housing market are becoming extortionate, with many tenants falling into ‘rent poverty’. The Government’s response is making the situation worse. What is needed is a way of bringing rents under control, without punishing tenants – what is needed is rent control.  (more…)

Renting set to become a ‘way of life’

June 10th, 2012 | Posted by admin in News - (Comments Off)

Rent rises, and lack of access to credit, are trapping an increasing number of young families in the private rented sector, according to a  new report commissioned by Shelter and the Resolution Foundation. (more…)

Has your landlord illegally withheld your deposit?

May 4th, 2012 | Posted by admin in Uncategorized - (Comments Off)

One very common issue that tenants in the private rented sector come across is illegal withholding of deposits. The following is our guide explaining what to do, how to prevent it from happening and how to claim it back!

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