Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Shelter: The high price of letting fees

Dear Mr Jones, An investigation by Shelter today reveals that renters are being hit by unfair fees of as much as £700 by letting agencies. These charges are having a worrying impact - squeezing disposable incomes and leaving many in debt and financial worry, separate Shelter research has found.

Over 9 million people now rent their homes privately in England, including 1.3 million families with children. Letting agents: the price you pay finds that millions are being forced to pay high and unfair letting fees. Renters face an average of £350 in fees to letting agencies when moving - which is on top of what landlords are already paying agencies.

Fees are most commonly for administration and credit reference checks, with one in seven who used a letting agency charged more than £500.

Although agencies are contracted by landlords, it has become routine for them to charge renters for elements of their core service. These charges often bear little relation to actual costs, and regularly take place without the landlord’s knowledge.

The result is a further squeeze on renters already struggling with rising rents. 1 in 4 people who have dealt with a letting agency in the last three years said they had to borrow money to pay for fees, while 1 in 6 reported cutting down on food or heating to meet the cost of fees. The instability of the private rented sector means renters face these charges on a frequent basis.

Shelter has today launched our campaign to put an end to unfair fees charged to renters. The fairest and most effective solution is for letting agencies’ costs to be borne by those who employ them: landlords.

Many landlords are supportive of our call, such as Dorrington PLC, a leading residential landlord who have joined our campaign today.

A similar requirement also exists in Scotland, where there have been no adverse affects on rents or the numbers of letting agencies in business.

We would be grateful if you could raise this important issue in Parliament. Click here to read our full report and do get in touch if you require any further information.

Kind regards, Steve Akehurst
Public Affairs Officer

0344 515 1170
88 Old Street, London EC1V 9HU