The Advertising Standards Authority had just announced that letting agents must disclose their fees when they quote a rental price for a property. This will affect adverts on websites as well as all other media. The specific case referred to the ASA related to an advertisement on a property website where the price quoted for the rent did not mention the administration charge the tenant would have to pay.

One organization that is very happy about this is the housing charity Shelter. They did some research last year and concluded that people renting properties were regularly being overcharged. For example they found agents charging £100 for each viewing and £150 for a credit check each year costing the agent only a fraction of this. They also reported agents charging a non-refundable administration fee of up to £450. In Scotland it is unlawful for agents to charge fees to tenants and many in England and Wales would like the same to apply across the whole UK.

The consumer organization Which? has also been working in this area. Its research found that agents were not disclosing their fees early enough, leaving tenants to face unexpected charges later on. It is difficult for people to compare the actual cost of different rental homes on the market if they do not know all the fees and charges you will have to pay. Which? would like all lettings to be regulated in the same way as estate agents. What about our landlord insurance clients? Do you feel that there should be an industry wide system of regulation?

The lettings market has grown very strongly in the last few years and renting a house is now the norm for many people, young and old single and in families. Perhaps it is not surprising that so much attention is being given by charities, campaigners and regulators to an area that now affects so many people.

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