Citizens Advice has called for all letting agency fees to be paid by landlords as opposed to tenants, as is the case in Scotland.
The charity believes that landlords have an advantage of being able to shop around for the most suitable deals. On the other hand, tenants however have no choice over the agent they deal with, nor the fees they are charged, following finding a suitable property.
More numbers of renters are contacting the charity with complaints about letting agents. Citizens Advice said it received 6,500 calls about the sector in the year to June. This was a rise from 6,200 in the same month last year and 5,700 the year previously.
In the past, many tenants have lodged complaints about delays and getting repairs fixed. However, it now appears that complaints are more prominently about letting agents’ fees.
Presently, tenant fees are charged for a number of services, including preparing a tenancy agreement, referencing and making credit checks. Citizens Advice believes these features should be paid for by landlords.
Chief Executive of Citizen’s Advice, Gillian Guy, said, ‘private renters shop around for properties, not for letting agents. Landlords are better able to choose agencies based on performance and cost and it should therefore be landlords paying letting agent fees, not tenants picking up these rising costs.’
Landlords should cover letting agent fees, says Citizens Advice
Responding to the claim, David Cox, managing director of the Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA), said he believes that letting agents have a ‘fair pricing structure,’ and do not make a, ‘noticeable profit.
Cox feels that landlords are left with little choice but no charge for essential items such as credit checks, rent to rent assessments and inventories.
‘Rather than simply transferring the total cost onto the side on the landlord, what is crucial is to provide consumer protection through better regulation of the private rented sector,’ Cox noted.