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West Norfolk agents defend high letting fees

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As demand for housing continues to grow, the focus is increasingly shifting towards the rental market.

Despite warnings over house price “bubbles”, tenants are also facing higher costs with letting agency network Sequence, recording a 10 per cent hike in the average cost of renting a property over the past year.

Charities and politicians have also called for estate agents to end the practice of charging administration fees to tenants before they even set foot inside a home.

The fees usually cover things like the cost of preparing the tenancy agreement, checking references, making up the inventory and any other costs involved in setting up the tenancy. In West Norfolk, the average letting fee is approximately £260.

Although such fees have already been banned in Scotland, where politicians claim the move has had no impact on charges, agents in West Norfolk insist the fees are necessary and abolishing them would only push rents even higher.

Craig Mann, an agent at Brittons Estate Agents, who himself rents his home, said: “It’s physically impossible to ban them. They are a necessary cost that is there to make sure that all parties involved, tenant, landlord, and agent, are protected in case anything goes wrong.”

And a spokesman for the Millsopps agency added: “The money has to come from somewhere. We either won’t be able to do thorough background checks and legal processes or we pass on the cost to the landlords, and the rent will only go up even further.”

However, the homeless charity Shelter argues that all those costs should be negotiated between the landlord and the agent and covered by the landlord.

There can also be other hidden costs such as renewal fees and check-out fees that tenants should look out foRecently the goverment announced plans that letting agents would be required to display full details of their fees both on their websites and in their offices to increase transparency.

Emma Ward, lettings manager at Rounce & Evans, said: “All fees must be shown now on marketing a property, but it’s always best to ask your agent about what total fees are involved with the tenancy agreement.”

 

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