Vicky Spratt | Deputy Editor | Thursday, 7 April 2016

Ban On Letting Fees

We Asked Readers What They've Paid In Letting Agent Fees: Here's What We Found Out...

The Debrief: At The Debrief we’re calling for a ban on letting fees. We think letting fees are out of control in England, unlike in Scotland where they’ve been banned since 2012

Walk down any high street in England and you could go into five different letting agencies who would all charge you a different fee. You have to pay for the privilege of dealing with them, to secure a property and even to change the name on a piece of paper? You’re then also charged an inflated fee for a credit check, which actually costs when you as little as a tenner. 

I have paid as little as £80 and as much as £552 in agency fees on different fees. How is it possible that fees can vary so much from agency to agency? It’s a rip off and the agents are getting away with it, all the way to the bank. 

Every time you move and go through a letting agent you will incur some kind of cost. There’s no way of knowing what you’ll be charged until you’re about to sign, unless you think ahead and check on their website where they are legally required to publish their fees. When you’re in the midst of a stressful and draining flat hunt that’s not exactly the first thing on your mind though, is it? When you find a flat you actually like what are the chances that you’ll just swallow the fees so you can secure a decent place? This is not a renter’s market and estate agents are taking advantage of that fact. 

We decided to ask some of our readers about their experiences of letting agents’ fees. Here’s what they’ve had to pay:

Katherine Oliver is 27. She’s a trainee teacher and lives in Stockwell with her boyfriend.

‘I’ve been renting for 4 years, I’ve moved 3 times in that period. Last time I paid around £856 in fees!!! I was shocked. We had never paid that much before, maybe a few hundred max. This time the inventory alone was £150…for a guys to come round for less than an hour!’

‘These fees are definitely not fair – what are they charging you for? Just to sign a bit of paper? I’m sure there are legal reasons but whenever we’ve dealt with agencies they don’t seem to make our job of looking for a flat easier - they don’t really seem to care.’

‘If I had more money I probably wouldn’t care - but I’m a trainee teacher so I don’t earn a great amount. This is a drain on my resources. I don’t think I will ever own a house outright.’

Natalie Bell is 22, she recently graduated and lives in Greenwich.  

‘I still rent the property that I was living in last year as a student. I think I paid about £2,300 in total when I moved in. An extortionate amount of what I was asked to pay was agency fees, I can’t remember exactly but I know I’m only going to get about £500 back if I move out. I don’t think I’ll ever own a house…I don’t know what I’ll do.’

Stacie is 23


‘When I moved I paid £775, the whole deposit was two grand all together. For the letting agents, it was six weeks rent as a deposit and a month upfront and the rest was letting fees. I didn’t question it, I didn’t think that was something I could do. I don’t think it was fair at all.’

‘I’d like to own my own home but I think paying this much rent means I can’t save for a property.’

 Jessica is 25 and works in marketing

‘I think I paid about £200 on fees.  We also had to pay a six week deposit as well as our first months rent. I didn’t question it, we assumed that’s what we’d have to pay and at that point you just want a house, so you don’t really question it.’

‘I don’t think fees are fair.  We are young and they made it feel like they were doing us a favor. So it just felt like we had to go through it and do what they wanted in order to get somewhere to live.’ 

You might also be interested  in:

Making Rent Fair: Why We're Calling For The End Of Letting Agent Fees 

The Reality Of Trying To Rent In London

How The Housing Bill Left Young People Behind

Follow Vicky on Twitter @Victoria_Spratt

Tags: Politics, Money worries, Housing Woes