A Citizens Advice report is calling for the banning of letting agents fees to help protect tenants in England and Wales.
The charity says in a report that letting agents are refusing to adopt measures meant to bring competition and transparency to the market.
They say that calling for a ban is ‘not being made lightly’ but say that the measures introduced so far have not worked and that landlords and tenants should be in a better position to pick better agents.
Citizens Advice is also pointing to a fees ban which began in 2012 in Scotland and says there is no evidence that suggests that it led to rental increases.
Charity wants a clampdown on excessive agent fees
Citizens Advice says the average bill paid by tenants is £337 and that the fees, many of which are hidden charges being levied by agents, are 'ripping off' tenants.
They say tenants are having to pay extra charges on top of the deposit and that some agents’ fees are pushing tenants into debt.
In their report, Citizens Advice claim that the charges for checking references by letting agents vary wildly from £6 to £300 - though credit checks usually cost £25 to carry out - and the fees for renewing a tendency range from £15 to £300.
The report also reveals that despite the new rules last October stating that letting agents must give more information about their fees, just one in three actually gave full written details.
This requirement will become law this year and agents will have to publish what their fees are for.
Fears new letting agent rules will be ignored
However, Citizens Advice says it is concerned that the new regulations will have little impact on lettings agencies.
The charity's chief executive, Gillian Guy, said: “Tenants are open to abuse because letting agents hold all the cards. Tenants are also being stung by arbitrary fees which range from a modest amount to several hundred pounds.”
She added: “Landlords can hold letting agents to account and it is right they shoulder the responsibility for fees to help end letting agents charging a tenant what they like.”
The charity is also highlighting that despite mandatory membership of redress systems being introduced last October, around 20% of letting agents are still not members.
Retaliatory eviction law rethink needed - ARLA
The Association of Residential Landlords (Arla) is calling for a rethink of the retaliatory eviction law which is aimed at preventing revenge evictions as part of the Deregulation Bill 2015.
The Association says there are going to be unintended consequences with dishonest tenants using the rules to avoid a landlord’s legitimate claim for repossession.
The new regulation could become law later this year and will prevent a landlord serving a section 21 notice if a tenant has made a complaint about the condition of the property.