New research argues letting fee ban could work in England

Charging letting fees to renters is 'unfair and unnecessary' say campaigners

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Shelter has renewed its call for a ban on fees in England following a study which suggests it would have no negative impact on agencies, landlords or renters.

The housing charity has been campaigning for an end to letting agency fees for renters in England, arguing that high fees are pushing one in four renters into debt.

New research commissioned by the housing charity looked at what has happened in Scotland where there has been a ban on letting fees charged to renters since 1984, a law that was clarified and reinforced in 2012. 

The study shows that 54 per cent of letting agency managers said that the ban on fees was positive for the sector, with nearly two thirds adding that the ban had no impact on their business. Indeed, 17 per cent admitted that the change was positive for their business

Renters in Scotland also reported that they had not experienced unexpectedly higher rents while the majority of landlords who use agents (70 per cent) had not noticed an increase in their fees. Fewer than one in five letting agency managers said they had increased their fees to landlords.

Shelter has warned that measures introduced to increase the transparency of fees to renters are not working, and that many agents are still failing to disclose fees up front.

"This research shows that charging letting fees to renters is not only unfair, but unnecessary," said Roger Harding, Shelter’s director of communications, policy and campaigns, "as banning them in Scotland has had a positive effect on the market and renters’ lives.

"Landlords are the real customers of a letting agency, and yet renters are being charged often huge fees for services that landlords are already paying for,something that is unheard of in other industries. Putting an end to letting fees to renters is the only way to stop double charging and make the market genuinely transparent. Now that we know it can be done without having a negative impact on the lettings market, politicians must take action and stand up for England’s nine million renters, now."