Housing charity Shelter has broadened its attack on upfront fees charged by letting agents.
Shelter already has an active campaign under way in Scotland, where upfront fees are illegal, but it has now launched an attack on lettings agencies in Wales.
The timing coincides with the move by the Welsh government to introduce compulsory licensing for both agents and landlords – a move that could set a precedent in the rest of the UK.
Shelter Cymru carried out a mystery-shopping exercise with letting agents across Wales to investigate fees and charges and how they vary between agents.
Agents were asked about the costs of setting up a tenancy, deposits required, the upfront costs of renewing a tenancy, charges for credit checks, late payment charges and any other fees or charges.
Researchers found that some tenants could be charged as much as £594 in set-up fees for a property at the average market rent.
It means that as well as finding one month’s rent in advance and a deposit usually totalling a month’s rent, prospective tenants needed to find additional fees and charges of around 45% of the monthly rent. With some agents, this sum could be as high as 120%, says Shelter.
Additional charges included fees to renew contracts, check-in and check-out fees to hand over keys and check inventories, and non-refundable pre-contract administration fees for everyone who applied for a tenancy regardless of whether their application was successful.
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