A Labour government would crack down on letting agent fees, after a survey by the party found that tenants are paying upfront fees averaging £902 – and £1,700 in London.
Labour leader Ed Miliband is calling for mandatory regulation of the lettings market, following the survey of 91 letting agencies in England.
The survey found that the lowest fees charged to tenants are in the north-east at an average of £642. Across the country, administration fees were anything between £40 and £300. Where check-in fees were charged, the rate ranged from £60 to £150.
More than a quarter of letting agents surveyed charge extra fees for each additional adult, and Labour claims that six out of ten did not mention tenancy deposit protection on either their website or in their correspondence.
The survey also claims that three-quarters of the agents were “not transparent about fees on their websites” and that fewer than half agreed to reveal their fees via email.
Shadow housing minister Jack Dromey said the figures “expose the level of rip-off fees and the lack of transparency for consumers”.
He went on: “Labour has called for effective regulation of letting agents to force them to be transparent on their fees, and we’re assessing the size and level of fees that can be charged.
“Tenants need proper protection against being ripped off.”
Meanwhile, Dromey has denied that Labour would bring in statutory rent controls if it came to power.
He had been reported in the Daily Mail as saying that he would bring in “a form of rent control to end ever-spiralling upward rent” without hesitation.
However, a spokeperson for Dromey said: “We have made it clear we are not talking about traditional rent controls, but a new model that works for both landlords and tenants.”
Meanwhile, Labour is not the only party with plans for the private rented sector. See next story.