Most of the calls I received were from Eastern Europeans living and working hard in the UK.
I was shocked to hear the same tale with nearly every phone call that I received.
Many of these hardworking families were living in a multi-occupancy property with up to three other people, including children, sharing one bedsit.
Naively assuming that these people must be short of money hence their current accommodation I warily explained that the rent on our three bed roomed, furnished home would be £460 per month.
I literally gasped when they told that they are currently paying £450 per month for their run down bedroom excluding bills.
It became clear that this was considered normal amongst their community and it seems that there are hundreds of people in the same boat.
I could feel the desperation of these people through the phone.
When I asked for their current landlords information in order to obtain a reference it became clear that they were not renting from any sort of established company, they had only a first name, no address, and the phone numbers simply rang out.
Many of the possible tenants that rang me asked if we were a "company"? I explained that we were a small independent letting agent and asked if that was a problem? I could hear the voices of the callers drop as they asked what fees we would charge? What checks would we do? Clearly these are the barriers between many people, the bigger lettings agents and rouge Lanldlords are stopping them from renting a decent well managed home, leaving no option for them but to rent from back street landlords who are clearly exploiting vulnerable people who find themselves in this situation.
I am so happy to say that we have filled our property with a wonderful Eastern European family, who are in my opinion some the hardest working, most honest and reliable tenants that we have.
Having a keen eye for equal opportunities and sense of humanity we can see that sometimes the best tenants are out there, they just need a chance and a bit of help.
I believe that Letting Agents should not charge Tenants a penny more than they should, £20 for a credit check and that is it.
No Set Up, Admin or 'Holding' Fees at all.
It would allow agents to fill the properties quicker, generate more income for the Landlords and address the difficult situations that tenants find themselves in why trying to get onto the rental market.
In my opinion the same should work the other way too, Letting Agents should not be charging the Landlords a penny either! No set up fees, no admin fees, no contract fees, no early release fees...
in fact no set up fees at all! Just the standard monthly management fee should be enough.
There are enough rental properties out there and Letting Agents could better compete if greed, dishonesty and gluttony did not feature in the Lettings market as it does today.