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Paul Loughran v Piney Rentals Limited and F5 Property Limited 16/084351

On 29th June Belfast County Court ruled that F5 Property Limited, acting as a letting agent, return an administration fee which was charged to a tenant prior to commencing his tenancy.  Belfast County Court had previously ordered, in December 2017, that another letting agent, Piney Rentals Limited, return a similar fee charged to the same tenant.
Housing Rights acted for the tenant, Mr Paul Loughran, in the joined test cases.  They brought the cases to address a widespread issue of letting agents charging tenants administration fees in order to enter into private tenancies.
In both cases the tenant had rented private residential accommodation.  The two cases related to separate properties, letting agents and landlords.  However, the administration fee sought from the tenant was similar in both cases.  In the first case Piney Rentals Ltd sought a £30.00 administration fee and, in the second case, F5 Property Ltd charged £36.00. 
The County Court considered whether the letting fees were contrary to the provisions within the Commission on the Disposals of Land (Northern Ireland) Order 1986.  In both cases the Court held that the administration fees were contributions towards the costs of services that the letting agents had been commissioned by the landlords to do.  Therefore the Court found that the fees were void under the provisions of the 1986 Order and the tenant was entitled to recover them. 
It is hoped that these judgments will benefit numerous tenants living in or seeking access to private rented accommodation and will lead to a change in the practices of letting agents.
The PILS Project gave financial support to Housing Rights to bring these strategic cases.
For detailed analysis of the cases please read Chris McGrath’s article on Housing Rights website here.

Housing Law