5 Feb 2018
A self-styled tenants’ union demonstrated for two days running outside a letting agent, which was forced to lock its doors, hire security officers and call police.
The agent, Infiniti Properties in Glasgow, said that the demonstration was highly intimidating, totally unwarranted and caused its staff huge distress. A six-months pregnant woman was helped off the work premises under police escort.
The union, Living Rent, had backed one of its members who claimed he was charged an ‘illegal’ £180 fee and was also arguing about a deduction made from his deposit.
However, an entirely different story emerged from Infiniti Properties, which said that the tenant had not been charged an illegal non-optional fee, but had chosen by his own volition to pay for an optional referencing fee himself – as is entirely legal in Scotland.
As for the deduction, the agent said that the tenant had taken a mattress and replaced it with a completely different one, which was old and stained.
Members of the union, which represents student tenants in Scotland, demonstrated outside Infiniti Properties, leading to a four-hour ‘siege’ – and a similar demonstration the following day.
In Scotland, it is illegal to charge tenants any fees, and the agent clearly states on its website that it does not do so – as was strongly reiterated to us at the weekend.
By Living Rent’s own account, over a dozen members and supporters picketed the offices of Infiniti Properties for over four hours – with a similar protest the following day.
Living Rent claims that five days later Infiniti Properties got in touch with Living Rent to make an offer, and following negotiation, £600 was secured for the tenant.
On its Twitter account Living Rent played out the drama over the days, complete with pictures and various claims, finally claiming victory by saying that Infiniti Properties had “barricaded themselves in their offices” before backing down and returning £600 “to our member.”
In a statement, Infiniti Properties strongly refuted this version of events, adding that it had never negotiated with Living Rent and had never even spoken to them.
It said: “As responsible employers, we have a duty of care to protect staff’s wellbeing.
“The aggressive onlineforced us to hire professional security officers. The situation became extremely intimidating, requiring police escorts, and led to the absence of a heavily-pregnant member of staff.
“We applaud good practice, and believe everyone has a right to put forward their case.
“However, when this is prolonged, intimidating and causing staff distress, forcing us to lock our doors, there’s a better way to do things.
“As such, we contacted our former tenant and came to a mutually agreeable outcome whereby he agreed to certain deductions from his deposit which allowed us to instruct Safe Deposits Scotland to return part of his deposit, and as a gesture of goodwill we made a payment to bring the matter to a close.
“This payment was not a refund of his fees as claimed by Living Rent.”
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