Letting agents' fees should be banned says Citizens' Advice

Letting agents' fees should be banned says Citizens' Advice
Letting agents should be banned from charging fees to prevent tenants being ripped-off, a new report from Citizens' Advice has urged.
According to its research, tenants in the private rental market face a raft of fees and hidden charges totalling a whopping £377 on average when trying to find somewhere to live.
It found tenants can be charged anything between £6 to £300 for having their references checked, between £15 to £300 simply renewing their tenancies, while some agents charge as much as £300 to carry out credit checks which are widely available for £25.
Almost half of 353 agents it questioned for it’s Still Let Down report even admitted that they charge people £76 on average in 'check out' fees when moving out of a property too.
Later this year agents will have to publish their fees on their websites and in their offices in order to help renters make a more-informed choice but Citizens' Advice doesn’t believe the measures will have any significant impact on stopping people being ripped-off. It’s report adds that there is no evidence a ban on fees in Scotland introduced in 2012 has led to a rise in rental prices either.

Holding the cards

Gillian Guy, chief executive of Citizens Advice, said: "Letting agents hold all the cards meaning tenants are open to abuse. Renters are regularly stung by arbitrary fees which can range from modest amounts to hundreds of pounds.
"Our research confirms renters don’t shop around for letting agents, they shop around for properties – so the idea that transparent fees will solve these problems is misguided.
"Landlords can hold agencies to account so it is right that they should shoulder the responsibility of fees. That would end once and for all the situation in which letting agents charge tenants what they like."
Some 90% of renters questioned for the report said extortionate fees caused them financial difficulties, with 42% admitting they had to borrow money from friends and family to cover the costs and 20% stating they went overdrawn in order to pay.

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Ok fine ,but how do agents make their money then ? !
They have staff,rent overheads,work to do on each tenant,check in check out,references,inventory (this is a lot of work)photos et.
 am sick  of    CAB         and landlord bashers and agent bashers.
Yes no to rip offs but get real,services cost money.
The agent will only pass the costs onto Landlords,so forcing landlords to increase rents !!!
Now the government want to tell landlords they must allow subletting !
This will put rents up  too  !!!
The whole business is not on a level playing field anymore and tenants rights are put over landlords rights.
The government  have no        idea at all and will force landlords to give up the business making more shortage  of homes to rent,then see the mess !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Agents make their money out of the % of the charges to the landlord.  I agree that tenants need to pay up front admin costs of setting up the contract and performing credit checks but the problem is the vast majority of letting agents hike up these prices unnecessarily.  £200 per tenant credit check is extortionate.  
Don't forget that it doesn't cost anything to provide an inventory and 80% of letting agents never check the condition of the house before it is let out just use the ongoing previous inventory.  Once a tenant finds numerous issues with the inventory it is corrected but that money is not refunded when the inventory is incorrect (which is printed out and stuck in the post which doesn't cost more than £3.00).
After 12 months some letting agents will charge a renewal fee if a further 6 - 12 months contract is requested either by the tenant or the landlord and these charges are scandalous as all it is is printing up another contract and getting both parties to sign for it.  The better option is to switch to a rolling 1 month contract as majority of letting agents won't charge for this to the landlord or the tenant.
Obviously it is cheaper to manage rent costs up front than buying a house (surveyor fees, mortgage fees, solicitor fees etc) but this shouldn't give the right for letting agents to charge silly prices when majority of the time neither the tenant or the landlord are actually getting value for service.  The complaints on letting agents poor service are at a record high therefore landlords should consider managing tennant privately.
It will all change eventually and these charges will decrease and in some situations totally disappear.  It has happened in the sales market when purchasing house as fees from estate agents have come down considerably.  Eventually the housing market will be under strict legislation - think about it the car sales industry has a code of conduct and is regulated so why wouldn't an estate agent when you are looking at 10's of thousands of pounds more?
You mentioned that agents will pass the costs on to landlords, who in turn will increase the rent, but only if landlords choose to use a rental agent in the first place.  Tenants rights have to be taken into account here otherwise some landlords will get away with charging silly prices and providing very poor accommodation.  
I can understand your frustrations but you should look at both sides of the issue here.  To be successful in business you need to accept change and work to look at solutions instead of sticking your feet firming in the ground and get left behind. The rental market will move on eventually and you will need to adapt accordingly to maintain a healthy business.
Hope you work things out :)