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New legislation now requires letting agents to clearly publicise fees they charge to tenants. The requirement came into effect on the 27th May as part of the Consumer Rights Act 2015.

 

Last year the government said, “The move ensures a fair deal for landlords and tenants, closing off the opportunity for a small minority of rogue agents to impose unreasonable, hidden charges.”

 

Previously, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) regulated letting agents in regards to fees but those who broke the rule faced little more than being ‘named and shamed’ on the ASA website.

 

The new rules now mean that letting agents who fail to publish a full tariff of their fees, both on their websites and prominently in their offices, will face a fine of up to £5,000.

 

The reason for the new rules, is to encourage landlords and tenants to shop around, this should mean more competitive fees.

 

Fees tend to be for setting up a tenancy agreement, conducting an inventory, checking references and credit reports, and registering the deposit in a government-approved scheme.

 

It’s argued the fees don’t reflect the work involved, some agents charge £200 for an assured shorthold tenancy agreement (AST), a document which they can easily amend quickly from a file on their computer.

 

According to a report from Citizens Advice earlier this year, letting agent’s charge private sector tenants an average of £337 in fees.

 

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