Lettings agents have been accused of breaking the law by not revealing their fees to renters.
The claim is published today by consumer organisation Which? after it found that major agents are failing to play fair to clients leaving them with unexpected expense and high bills.
In a mystery shopping exercise in London at four different branches of each of Foxtons, Barnard Marcus, Martin & Co and Your Move, investigators found that the fees tenants can expect to pay are not disclosed early enough.
It leaves renters facing unexpected charges, are unable to properly compare prices and don’t always know what they are signing up to until it is too late.
Richard Lloyd, executive director at Which? said: “Renting is now the only housing option for millions, and with many households struggling to pay rent and bills, it is vital that letting agents are upfront about expensive fees in advance.
“People should know all the costs before they invest time and effort in viewings. Drip feeding fees is unfair and a major barrier to people comparing agents and properties.”
Which? is calling for an end to hidden fees and increased consumer protection and redress.
It is supporting an amendment to the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill, expected to be debated in the House of Lords tomorrow (6 March), which would require all lettings agents to sign up to a redress scheme, as well as giving the Office of Fair Trading the power to ban letting agents that break the rules.