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Letting agent fees are out of control, says Shelter


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Housing charity discovers almost a third of agencies were charging renters more than £400 to set up a tenancy, in addition to the deposit and rent upfront

 

Shelter is calling for a ban on "out of control" letting agent fees that are forcing millions of tenants into debt

 

The housing and homelessness charity says letting agents frequently demand hefty upfront sums to set up a tenancy, on top of the deposit and rent, with the average amount being £350

 

According to the mystery shopping exercise carried out by the charity among 58 letting agencies across England, almost a third were charging tenants more than £400 to set up a tenancy, with seven charging in excess of £700.

 

This is in addition to the separate sum charged to the landlord by agents to find tenants and set up agreements on their behalf.

 

Alongside the rising cost of rent, upfront fees are putting additional pressure on tenants' finances with a quarter having to borrow money to pay them in the past three years, while one in six had to cut down on food or heating to meet the costs, Shelter found.

 

The charity wants agencies to be barred from charging "administration" and "holding" fees, "check-in" fees, or for credit checks. In some cases, these fees are non-refundable, even if the agreement falls through and the tenant is unable to move into the property.

 

The Office of Fair Trading recently found that of 4,000 complaints made by tenants and landlords to Consumer Direct about lettings agents, a third related to fees and additional charges. It found that landlords and tenants are being "drip-fed" extra charges after signing a contract.

 

Campbell Robb, chief executive of Shelter, said: "Letting agency fees have become truly out of control. When renters have to find hundreds of pounds in fees each time they move – on top of deposits and rent in advance – it's not surprising that fees are causing real financial hardship and, in some cases, preventing people from moving at all.

 

 

http://www.guardian.co.uk/money/2013/jun/12/lettings-agent-fees-out-of-control-shelter

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I'm glad to see this getting press coverage but unless LAs actually provide a meaningful service to tenants (e.g. finding them a property) then they shouldn't be allowed to charge tenants anything.

 

All the stuff they do is on behalf of the LL and so the LL should foot the bill (which of course they do but for some reason it's deemed acceptable for LAs to charge twice).

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  • 2 weeks later...

I think one of the companies that I ended up with should be investigated. Was charged a check-in fee, administration fee and a credit search fee. With the one month rent and bond (which I do not object to) I ended up having to find £1250 before I even moved in!! The company was rubbish for the entire year I had the misfortunate of having to report to. I reported damp in July 2012 before I moved in and it wasnt sorted till February 2013. I reported condensation in the bathroom and was told to 'leave the window open' - IN WINTER???? When the one year tenancy was up, I was asked to provide another £120 to prepare the next years tenancy. With all the problems I had, I moved onto a different property. Having scrubbed and cleaned it from top to bottom, they then withheld half of the bond I had paid stating stupid reasons why. I will be taking this further as I am not the only one who has been conned by this company!!!

Abbey - £539 pending - !!!WON!!!

Halifax - £676 pending - stayed at court

2nd Claim with Halifax - £168 pending

Lloyds TSB - £780 (sisters) !!!WON!!! - Filed waste of costs order (on hold)

Barclays - Barclays filed crap defense - on hold

 

AND THE BANKS ARE STILL CHARGING!!!!!!!

 

How very dare you!!

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