Rip-off rental fees challenged

Prospective tenants wanting to rent a home are being forced to pay over £1000 in questionable fees before they can obtain the keys and move in, according to Purplebricks.

The charges demanded by traditional estate agents have spiralled out of control despite a promised crackdown as more people rent, rather than buy.

A mystery shop of 284 agencies around the UK, carried out for Purplebricks, found the average fee for just admin and referencing was £257 per tenant for a standard rental agreement for a property.

Some agents charge as much as 60% of a month’s rent, which can send costs well over £1000, depending on the property.

On top of an admin and reference charge, renters are often asked to pay a host of extra costs. These
can include:

  •  An inventory fee which can be as high as £340
  •  ID checks which can add an extra £9
  •  Additional fees for a partner or fellow lodger of up to £125
  •  Moving in on a Saturday, which can cost £130
  •  Charges and/or deposits for keeping pets at the property

In addition to these extra charges, some agencies ask tenants for non-refundable holding deposits to secure a property, adding to the financial burden of finding enough money upfront to rent.

Making small changes to existing contracts also mean more eye-watering charges. One agent wanted £300 to extend the tenancy while another asked for £320 to print and post a contract if a tenant did not have an email address.

Michael Bruce (pictured), CEO Purplebricks, said: “We believe in a better deal for consumers. The fees currently charged by agencies lack transparency and tenants are faced with an array of extra charges they simply can’t avoid if they want to rent a particular flat or house. Some of these are outrageous and bear no relationship to the actual cost of drawing up a contract or making a credit check.

“Over a third of homes in England and Wales are now rented and while some see renting as a stop gap before buying a home, or enjoy the flexibility renting offers, some can’t afford to buy. At a time when it’s becoming more expensive than ever to rent, it’s outrageous that less scrupulous agents are profiteering from unfair fees charged to both tenants and landlords – they are getting two bites at the cherry. Tenants need to know what they will be charged so they can properly budget.

“We are determined to transform estate agency and make renting, letting, selling or buying a home fair, affordable and transparent.”

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