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Joint Ministerial Communiqué issued on Letting Agent Fees

Picture of properties with to let signs

Last week a Joint Ministerial Communiqué on Letting Agent Fees was issued by Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey MLA and Finance Minister Conor Murphy MLA.

The communiqué reinforced the judgement in the 2017 case of Loughran v Piney Rentals Ltd and F5 Property Ltd that, under The Commission on Disposals of Land (NI) Order 1986, fees should not be passed on to tenants for services that a letting agent carries out on behalf of a landlord. The Ministers highlighted that “such a practice is inequitable, unlawful and inconsistent with the normal business principle that he who engages an agent should pay for that agent’s services.”

Ministers express concern that agents are still not complying with the law

The Ministers expressed concerns that despite the 2017 judgement, there is evidence that some agents are not complying with the law and are continuing to charge such fees.

The communiqué goes on to confirm that Article 3 of the 1986 Order “renders void any case where the person taking land (or property) is obliged to pay commission due to an agent acting for the person disposing of the land, and that it covers all dealings in land, including: sales, leases, lettings, and matters such as rent reviews or renewals.”

The Ministers conclude by calling for any practice of charging fees for services carried out on behalf of the landlord to cease, as well as requesting that stakeholders keep them informed of any potential abuses so that they can consider whether any further action is needed.

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