Welsh letting agents asking for 'unreasonable' costs
Letting agencies in Wales are asking ‘unreasonable’ administration fees of up to £594, says homelessness charity Shelter Cymru.
The charity carried out a mystery shopping exercise with letting agents across Wales to investigate fees and charges.
They found as well as a month’s rent in advance and a deposit – usually a month’s rent – prospective tenants were being asked additional fees and charges of around 45 per cent of the monthly rent.
John Puzey, director of Shelter Cymru, said: ‘These kinds of unregulated charges, which are now actually illegal in Scotland, are making the private rented sector even more unaffordable at a time when many people in Wales are already struggling to find and keep accommodation.
‘In addition, we found that most charges were not well advertised so prospective tenants are often unable to discover the true cost of setting up a tenancy until they are well into the process of making an application, by which time they may already have handed over some non-refundable payments.’
Researchers found some agents published the costs of setting up tenancies on their websites but with the majority it was difficult to find out unless the sales people were asked specific questions.
The charity Shelter Cymru points to the Property Ombudsman’s code of practice for residential agents which states agents should flag up any potential liability for fees, charges and penalties before an application’s offer is accepted.
‘The private rented sector is a significant and growing element of the housing market in Wales and so we need to ensure that agents operate to the highest standards,’ Mr Puzey said.
The Welsh Government’s housing white paper, released last week, proposes compulsory accreditation of private landlords and letting agents in Wales.
Average upfront costs from Shelter Cymru’s research
|One adult in one bedroom property||Two adults in two bedroom property||Two adults in three bedroom property|
|Rent in advance*||£423.55||£520.65||£596|
* based on median rent prices for April 2012 (Rent Officers Wales)