1 in 4 'ripped off’ by letting agents

4 September 2012

Woman wearing a blue coat

Almost one in four people have been charged unfair fees by a letting agent, Shelter has revealed.

In Shelter’s survey, 23% - equivalent to 11 million people – said they had been charged unfair fees when renting their home through a letting agent in England.*

The most common fees were for ‘administration’ (14%), credit checks (10%) and for renewing a contract (8%). 

More than half (52%) felt the fees were unfair because they were disproportionate to the cost or amount of work done by the letting agent. 

Now Shelter is extending the investigation and encouraging renters and landlords to share their own experiences of unfair fees, charges and poor service. 

Angelique, a renter from Hampshire, paid £540 in administration costs when she rented a home with her partner through a letting agent. She said:

‘We didn’t receive any justification for these extortionate fees, and ended up having to pay nearly £3,000 upfront, making a huge dent in our finances.

‘I have nowhere I can complain to and be taken seriously. We can’t afford to buy our own home; renting is so expensive that it seems impossible to save for a deposit. The rental market is a horrible place right now.’ 

Kay Boycott, Shelter’s Director of Campaigns, Policy and Communications, said:

‘It’s scandalous that some letting agents are creaming off huge profits from the boom in private renting, by charging both tenants and landlords fees that are totally out of proportion to the service they provide. 

'With costs like these, on top of the sky-high rents that families already face, it’s no surprise that many dread the day they have to look for a new place to rent.’ 

Do you rent your home through a letting agent? 

If you (or someone you know) have had a bad experience with letting agents, please share your story with Shelter

*In a YouGov survey of 5,379 adults commissioned by Shelter, 23% have been charged unfair fees by a letting agent in England, equivalent to 10.9 million people.