How I Got My Tenancy Fees Back
Euan Kidston explains how he followed the EPTAG guide to getting your illegal tenancy charges back, and won!
On the 22nd of February this year, I wrote a letter to my letting agency and sent it by recorded delivery. It had come to my attention that it was illegal for letting agencies to charge anything to prospective tenants above their rent and deposit. I informed my letting agency that they had acted outwith the law by charging £90 to each tenant in my flat for the purpose of ‘referencing checks.’
Two days later they wrote back! The quick reply made me think I had given them quite the ruffle. I was informed that the type of charge to tenants that was made illegal (in 1984) was unrelated to the type of charge that had been issued to me. The legislation, I was told, covered ‘premiums’ and a referencing check, I was told, was not a ‘premium.’
On the 6th of March, I walked into the Sheriff Court on Chambers Street. After passing through security, I entered the small claims office. With the help of a member of EPTAG (Edinburgh Private Tenant’s Action Group) who had had a similar experience, I had completed a small claims court summons. A summons passes through the small claims office officially before being issued to the defender of the case; my letting agency. They would be given a court date which they could not legally refuse to attend. I had to pay a small charge so that the court would take my summons. Not having the correct change I ate in the Sheriff Court Cafe. I had curry. With the right change in hand, the payment was witnessed by two members of staff at the court. I was given a receipt. It read: Kidston V — Lettings.
Nine days later, I received a letter from — Lettings. It simply read, “Please find attached a cheque for £270 to refund the tenancy fees.” As indicated, there was a check attached to the sum of £270. The letter ended with “I trust this addresses any concerns raised.”
The whole procedure required very little interaction on my part. The original letter to my letting agency was created out of a standard letter provided by Edinburgh Private Tenants’ Action Group (EPTAG). I also wrote the court summons with the help of an article on the Govan Law Centre website which I was directed to through contact with EPTAG. All I had to do, physically, was hand the letter into the Sheriff Court and pay the court charge requested. EPTAG provide a simple step-by-step list of instructions which you can find here.
EPTAG will be visiting letting agents on Tuesday 3rd April to ask them to stop charging illegal tenancy fees. If you’d like to come along, meet us at 12:30 in Nicholson Square.
Editor’s note: although tenancy fees are illegal in Scotland; there are no laws against them in the rest of the UK.