Carshalton and Wallington MP attacks letting agents for ‘unfair and arbitrary’ fees

Carshalton and Wallington MP Tom Brake has attacked letting agents for ‘arbitrary and unfair’ fees, delivering a petition to Parliament yesterday demanding they become illegal.

Letting agent’s fees have come under fire recently with more people reporting charges such as exit fees, registration fees and for new names on contracts.

Mr Brake’s petition titled Make Renting Fair – that praises Scotland’s example where all fees were banned except rent and refundable deposits in 2010 – was delivered to housing minister Gavin Barwell on Thursday, October 13.

Mr Brake said: “Right now, renters in England are being shaken down by arbitrary and unfair letting agency fees.

“Letting agencies are a law unto themselves and the rogue landlords out there can name their rental price for sub-standard properties.”

He joined a protest outside Parliament yesterday with campaign group Shelter who are backing the Liberal Democrat’s Renter’s Rights Bill, which aims to crack down on ‘rogue landlords’.

But some people have criticised the move from Mr Brake, claiming it unfairly targets landlords and agencies who charge justifiable fees.

Licensing body National Approved Letting Scheme (NALS) believe Mr Brake’s petition to end letting fees would not solve the problems tenants face.

“We recognise many tenants face financial pressure, but there is also a widely held misconception that all letting agent fees are sky high, and unfair,” said CEO of NALS Isobel Thomson.

“In fact, our research shows that the bulk of letting agents are charging tenants a fair fee for their service, with an average fee of £172 – well below the figure quoted in the Renters Rights Bill.”

Deepak, a private landlord, said that as long as tenants agree to these fees then it’s a matter between them and the landlord.

“I hear stories about people being ripped off. Agents should only charge for referencing. Perhaps if it’s the first year of a tenancy then extra fees are fair, but certainly not in the second year onwards,” he said.

Mr Brake’s pressure on letting agents comes on the back of a report released this week by the Green Party’s Sian Berry that shows widespread dissatisfaction with rental services in London.

Merton and Wandsworth residents reported losing 65% of take home pay on rent, and nearly half of Croydon and Sutton respondents said they struggled to afford rent increases.

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