Generation Rent has renewed its calls for the government to ban letting agents from charging fees to tenants.
The group’s ongoing research of more than 700 agents confirmed that fees across the country vary widely, for what it says are essentially standard services. It says this indicates that many letting agents are charging disproportionate fees to a captive market.
Generation Rent’s website lettingfees.co.uk reveals that setting up a tenancy costs the typical two-person household £386, on top of rent, deposit and moving costs.
While four agents charge nothing, the highest set of fees for two people was £780, charged by Skampi in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets.
Letting agents have been required by law to publish their fees since the Consumer Rights Act 2015, but the research finds 14% of them are not doing so and could be fined £5,000.
Fees charged to tenants by landlords became illegal in Scotland in 2012.
Working in partnership with technology company Inkleby, Generation Rent and its volunteers gathered fees data from letting agents across eight London boroughs as well as Manchester and York. The findings will serve as a guide for tenants in those areas so they can avoid the worst operators.
Recent Shelter research found that home ownership will be accessible only to people earning more than £64,000 by 2020, meaning that more people will be stuck renting.
Betsy Dillner, director of Generation Rent, said: “Competition for homes is fierce, so tenants aren’t in a position to avoid paying letting fees, and agents often charge what they like. If tenant fees were banned, agents could start competing properly for business, and tenants wouldn’t have to dip into their savings to be able to move home.
“This project draws on the energy and enthusiasm of our volunteers and their hunger for a better deal from the rip-off lettings market.”