Money alert: Letting agent fees

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MPs this week called for tougher rules for "cowboy" letting agents. Last month Shelter said that agents were "out of control" and forcing millions into debt.

The housing charity claimed that tenants are being charged up to £700 in dubious extra charges on top of deposits and rent in advance. Now the Communities and Local Government Committee has demanded that letting agents should have to meet the same standards as estate agents, which would mean giving the Office of Fair Trading powers to ban those who act improperly.

Committee chairman Clive Betts said: "Cowboy agents who rip off landlords and tenants have to be stopped." Ian Fletcher of the British Property Federation said: "Agents should spell out all fees upfront to make everyone aware of the costs. It will mean a better deal for tenants and landlords."