Citizens Advice reports rise in problems with letting agents

Citizens Advice has recorded an increase in the number of problems with letting agents reported by tenants, with a sharp rise coming from the 17-24 age group.

The organisation has reported advising on 6,500 problems with agents between July 2015 and June this year, up 14% from the 5,700 problems reported two years ago. 

In the last year, it says it has been made aware of 810 problems among 17-24 year-olds, compared to 360 between July 2013 and June 2014.

The charity has subsequently added its support to calls for a ban on letting agency fees charged to tenants. 

It says agency fees have increased considerably in recent years, by as much as 60% in some cases. 

Citizens Advice says landlords should be charged agency fees, as they are in a better position to 'shop around' and choose a letting agency they want to work with. 

To coincide with Citizens Advice's report, the housing association Genesis surveyed 17 London letting agents and online agencies. 

It found that the average tenant would pay £436 in up-front fees, which covers reference, guarantor checks, inventory and contract fees. 

The study also looked at 'end of tenancy' fees and found the average agency to be charging £130, covering an inventory check-out and future landlord references.

“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," says Gillian Guy, cheif executive of Citizens Advice.

“It is concerning that younger renters are among the most likely to report problems with a letting agent, when many will end up using letting agents to find somewhere to live at university."

Last week, data from Upad revealed that 60% of 500 tenants would rather a rent cap than a ban on letting agency fees.

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    Are these people really that stupid?

    If the landlord picks up the cost then the rent will inevitably go up which will of course cost the tenants more in the long run

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    Are Letting Agents to be the only businesses not allowed to operate for profit? What about charity fund raisers who are legally allowed to deduct upto 50% for 'expenses' (bet not many people knew that), solicitors charging around £300 per hour, £2000 plus to organise a new mortgage, £3 for a cup of luke warm coffee. The list is endless. I think what these so called charities really want is more social housing, but haven't the nerve to say so. They forget letting agents also have running costs, staff, light, heating, business rates etc. These organisations need to decide if they are charities or protest groups, and if it the later they have no right to charity statius and all the privaleges that go with it. It would be interesting to know what the executives at Citizens Advice Bureau and Shelter get paid, both in salery and bonuses.

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    Let the market rolls in its own way! The tenants have 100% freedom to shop around the product that suits their need. Why landlords have to pay everyone's bills?!
    Any increase in the cost, it will be transferred to the end users. Is this a rocket science to understand? And why I have the impression that we think the tenants need money more than the landlords? The tenants can have guarantors if they need financial support, landlords are on our own! Landlords' hard working money is not supposed to be taken advantage of by anyone. Landlords need to pay £400-600 to find the tenants; and very often, we come across with bad quality agents and tenants, can Citizen Advice advise landlords where we can to to file our COMPLAINTS?

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    Dear CAB,
    I have supported your charity for many years - worthwhile organisation providing a, generally, valuable service to the general public.
    However, I am sorry to say that I can no longer provide you with any further support. I will not be making any donations, nor referring your offices to anyone seeking help.
    The CAB has a complete lack of understanding as to what is involved in the lettings industry, the reasons for the "tenants charges" and the consequences of "banning" tenants fees.
    Your position would be more credible if you concentrated efforts on ensuring a degree of reasonableness so that some less than professional letting agents didn't take advantage of tenants. It's quite simple really. Margins in the letting business are getting narrower, and whilst large agencies would be able to absorb any reduction in their income, smaller businesses will struggle. The net result will be a consolidation of letting agencies resulting in less competition and reduced choice. Whether you're a landlord or a tenant - that's not good for any industry.
    Smaller agencies play a vital role especially in areas outside London, other cities and urban areas. If the small agency is to survive in provincial and market towns, then landlord's fees will increase, which means that rents will increase to absorb these additional costs. Again, simple really.
    I'm sorry CAB - although your general aims are laudable, your policy on this is grossly misguided and ill conceived.



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