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November 26, 2012

Landlords and tenants need protection from lettings agents

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by Gill Montia

Landlords and tenants need protection from lettings agents

In a new assessment of UK lettings agents, Which? says it has uncovered bad practice, unexpected and unfair fees and a lack of consumer protection that fails both tenants and landlords.

According to the watchdog, the private rental sector now accounts for 4.7 million UK households, with two thirds of all private tenancies involving an agent.

However, there is plenty of evidence of bad practice and would-be tenants have to take a gamble as to whether they get a good or bad agent.

Problems highlighted by the study include:

Less than a third of tenants said agents provided information about fees before they had asked; 41% of tenants thought upfront fees were unfair and none of the 32 lettings agents surveyed had information on tenant fees on their websites.

Which? also found evidence of agents using aggressive sales tactics, poor customer service, missing appointments and misleading tenants through out-of-date advertisements.

Both tenants and landlords were found to have lost money through agents not passing on rent, unfairly handling holding deposits or failing to put deposits into protection schemes, as they are required by law.

Which? executive director Richard Lloyd says: “With the private rented sector now the only option for millions of people, it is vital that more is done to protect both tenants and landlords from rogue lettings agents.”


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