QUB student wins battle over letting agents' fees
A Queen's University student has won a legal challenge against a Belfast letting agent for levying what he believes are unfair and unjustifiable extra charges on tenants.
Paul Loughran took the action after being charged 'admin' and 'application' fees by separate agents.
But yesterday a court in Belfast found that the fees were for services which only landlords or their agents could carry out - meaning that tenants should not have to pay these costs.
Belfast man Paul and two housemates were each charged a £30 'admin' fee by Piney Rentals in 2014-15 for a property in Stranmillis.
In Scotland, letting agent fees were banned in 1984, and in 2001 in the Republic.
After yesterday's court judgment in his favour, ordering the return of the £30 letting fee, Paul said: "Some students are being charged anywhere from £20-£500 per tenant, per property, when they already face costs of several hundred pounds for first month's rent and tenancy deposits.
"I believe today's decision was the right one and look forward to further regulation of the private rented sector, similar to the improved regulation in Scotland and the south of Ireland and the planned new Tenants' Fees Bill in England."
Housing expert Ray Cashell, who is chairman of Shelter NI, said: "I am really pleased to see this positive decision today for Paul's case."
It is not yet known whether yesterday's judgment means those who have paid such fees in the past can now reclaim them.
A QUB Students' Union spokesperson said they would be studying the details of the judge's ruling closely.