Friday 21-10-2016 - 14:27
Jamie Ali, Community Officer at Leeds University Union, explains how they saved students hundreds of pounds by beating back letting fees from some agents in the city.
With the cost of living becoming a bigger and bigger worry for students, we need to do our best to bring it down.
Part of this has to be about looking at our biggest day-to-day outgoing cost as students: housing. So, as a first step, at Leeds University Union (LUU) we’re working to get letting agencies to get rid of their signing fees, as voted in as union policy last year.
Last term, LUU students passed policy to stop us promoting letting agents and landlords who charge students rip off admin fees when we sign a housing contract. As a result, these organisations will no longer receive invites to our housing fair or be able to advertise in LUU.
And guess what? As a result of the work LUU has put in, we’re already seeing the benefits. Two of the biggest student letting agents in Leeds have now announced that they will drop their signing fees for students, bowing to the pressure we’ve mounted. This is a huge win for students, showing the power of collective action. We hope to keep up the pressure on other agencies to give us a better deal.
In Leeds, students are charged as much as £250 (each!) in some cases just for the privilege of signing on that dotted line. That’s unquestionably wrong.
The average Leeds student forks out about £80 on signing fees. It’s often unclear where this chunk of money is being spent. Paying a letting fee puts a further strain on our budgets for the term. This a big, fat rip-off if there ever was one.
One of the firms, Spencer Properties, told us that they’re “pleased to announce that we will no longer charge administration fees. We have listened to what students want and acted upon this.”
As students and as tenants, we are more powerful when it comes to house hunting than we realise. It’s simply unfair that some agencies often feel confident in taking advantage of our relative inexperience in looking for a home.
Following this victory, we will keep the campaign going – watch this space!
You can find more information on Leeds’ campaign against letting agent fees here.