Campaign group Generation Rent has returned to attacking mode with an article criticising letting agents’ fees to tenants and effectively urging people to complain to MPs about the charges.
The campaign’s director, Betsy Dillner, writes on the CityMetric website that fees charged to tenants are an ecnouragement to letting agents to ‘churn’ renters.
“Letting agents try to justify these fees in a few ways. ‘We have our costs too!’ they say of photocopying while you need to pack your life into boxes; or, ‘We’re not singling you out – homeowners have to pay fees too!’” Dillner writes.
“The difference is that those lucky homeowners will never be forced to move as long as they keep paying off their mortgage. Even the most conscientious renter never really knows if their landlord will serve them notice, or raise the rent to an unaffordable level. Many tenants paying those fees didn’t want to move in the first place” she continues.
Dillner then says there are comparable problems for tenants who do not move - because she claims they are “trapped” in private rented housing.
“[The] English Housing Survey found that 34 per cent of renters living in unsuitable homes just can’t afford to move; for another 35 per cent, the cost of fees would be a factor in deciding whether to move. Fees are actively hindering the efficient operation of the housing market” she says.
Dillner suggests that if there were no fees on tenants “more people could move out of squalid flats, forcing landlords to improve their properties.”
She says the fees issue cannot have escaped the notice of new housing minister Gavin Barwell who, Dillner suggests, has 22,000 private renters in his Croydon Central constituency.
Her article ends with a link to the Generation Rent website showing how people can protest about fees to their MPs.