Council considers opening rival lettings agency

A city council is considering taking property lettings into their own hands in an effort to tackle ‘rogue’ agents.

Cambridge City Council has voted to explore plans to establish its own letting agency, in response to what councillors described as the “extortion” practiced by private agents.

Labour Councillor George Owers told the council: “All Cambridge renters deserve the option of a social letting agent that will not profiteer and will prevent people having to put up with the scourge of all these fees and inappropriate practices.”

Proposing the plans, Councillor Owers suggested that a new, public sector agency cold help to redress the power imbalance that he says favours private agents over tenants.

Cambridge would follow a number of other councils in its establishment of a local authority letting agent. Hackney Borough Council, for example, already runs its own agency, through which it offers guaranteed rents to landlords and free referencing to tenants.

Cambridge City Council already has experience in lettings, having set up a “social agency” in January. The agency is tasked with helping “homeless single people and families get a good home in the private rented sector.”

What do you think? Should local councils be involved in the lettings process? Let us know in the comments.