» Some letting agents are fleecing tenants

High charges for viewing properties reported

Article Published: 5th September 2012

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Tenants are struggling to secure rental properties in areas such as London as they find it harder to jump on to the housing ladder. So the realisation that they will often have to pay letting agents high fees for relatively inexpensive services such as credit checks is a bit hard to swallow. The housing charity Shelter’s recent research has shown that one in four tenants feel they have been 'ripped off' by letting agents at some point in their lives. The figures show that of the 5,000 people surveyed, around 24 per cent felt they had been charged unfairly high fees for services including credit checks, renewal of contracts and other areas of “administration” work.

Around 52 per cent of those questioned said they knew of someone or felt they were party to unfair charges disproportionate to the actual cost of any work being done in relation to their rented accommodation. It was found that some tenants had been asked to pay more than £150 for repeat credit checks when the true cost of the check can be as little as £10.00 to carry out. There were some incidents of agents charging prospective tenants to view properties as well as non-refundable administration fees of more than £500.

Some landlords also felt disgruntled as they were charged fees that the tenants had also paid for.

Those in London were found to be the most likely to believe they have been charged over the odds. Almost one in three questioned said they had, London has one of the fiercest markets for rental properties.

Kay Boycott, director of campaigns, policy and communications at Shelter, said: "It's scandalous that some letting agents are creaming off huge profits from the boom in private renting by charging both tenants and landlords fees that are totally out of proportion to the service they provide.

With our investigation uncovering unexplained charges of over £500, we need to make sure that letting agent fees are reasonable. With costs like these, on top of the sky-high rents that families already face, it's no surprise that many dread the day they have to look for a new place to rent."