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47 letting agents 'reviewed' by pressure groupA pressure group of local charities has scrutinised charges and services from 47 rival letting agencies in one city - with the result that some, allegedly, levy unfair' fees on tenants.

Pressure group Advice Exeter, which conducted the survey of agents in the Devon city over the summer, says the results concluded that:

  • one-off fees paid by tenants to agents at the start of tenancies averaged £350 but ranged from £150 to over £700;
  • almost half of the agents did not publish fees when advertising properties to let;
  • one third were not in any redress scheme (although the survey was conducted before it was mandatory for letting agents to join an ombudsman scheme);
  • fees charged by regional or national chain agents were on average 20 per cent higher than those levied by smaller local agents.

Advice Exeter spokesman Iain Large says that competition for void properties was so great, many tenants had little choice but to accept agents' fees no matter how large they may have been.

The idea that this is a competitive and open market for consumers is simply not the case he claims.

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