Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg’s recent announcement that letting agents will be required to publish their fees clearly on their websites and in their offices will be useful for anyone moving into rented accommodation, but agent’s fees are not the only hidden costs associated with moving. Finding some extra cash to cover unexpected bills can be difficult enough at the best of times, but when you have just committed to buying or renting a new home, it can be particularly problematic when removals costs start to add up.
The new policy will make it easier for tenants to calculate the true costs of their new property, by ensuring that it will be easy to find out exactly what letting agents will be charging. The hope is that greater openness about the fees that are being charged will help to keep rates down, as well as helping tenants to understand what they will need to pay. However, discussions are underway to determine whether stronger regulation should be put in place to restrict letting agent fees. An amendment to the Consumer Rights Bill has been proposed that could ban agents from charging any extra fees to tenants for renting them a property. Charges could then be limited to a deposit and the first month’s rent, although some estate agents worry than banning agent’s fees could just result in a rise in rents, as happened in Scotland when similar legislation was passed.
Even if the ban on fees is put into place, there will still be other hidden costs associated with moving that buyers and renters will need to continue including in their budgets:
1. Decorating costs, particularly if professional services are used.
2. Packaging materials for the move, although costs can be kept down by sourcing free cardboard boxes or asking the removals service to help source materials at a low price.
3. Fee for parking the removals van outside your property if you have to arrange a suspension of council parking restrictions to use street bays.
4. New appliances and installation costs, as well as any extra costs for setting up broadband, TV, or even tuning a piano.
5. Extra utilities bills, if services are not switched immediately, or if meter readings aren’t given to suppliers quickly to avoid paying for the previous tenant or owners’ energy use.