People in Ipswich are experiencing an increasing number of problems with letting agents, Ipswich Citizens Advice reveals today.
The number of people the charity helped with letting agency issues has risen by 50% from the year July 2013 to June 2014 to this past year. Issues with repairs to properties has also risen by more than 50% in the same period.
Previous research from the national charity Citizens Advice highlighted problems with letting agents’ ongoing management of properties, with delays in getting basic repairs completed or in fixing properties that were so damp or cold they could pose a health risk.
One renter Citizens Advice helped endured a five month battle with their letting agent to fix a damp problem that left them with mouldy, wet walls and peeling paint.
In other cases tenants sought help after being hit with administration fees they felt were much higher than the cost of renewing their tenancy agreement.
The price of letting agents’ fees has risen considerably in recent years, going up by as much as 60% over the last five years. Official figures from a survey of tenants suggest the average (median) letting agent fee has risen from £125 in 2009-10 to £200 in 2014-15.
But people could be paying much more – Citizens Advice’s research with letting agents has previously revealed fees as high as £337 on average, and up to £700 in some cases.
Ipswich Citizens Advice is calling for a ban on letting agents charging fees to tenants. Currently both landlords and tenants are charged fees for the letting agents’ services. Citizens Advice believes there should just be one charge which is paid for by landlords, who are in a better position to shop around and pick the best agency.
Nicky Willshere, Chief Executive at Ipswich Citizens Advice said:
“People shelling out more to letting agents are often getting a raw deal.
“As letting agents hike up their fees, more people are coming to us to help because of problems with the service they’ve paid for.
“It’s not fair that tenants are having to pay hundreds of pounds in letting agent fees for a simple contract renewal or for management services that leave them waiting months on end to get basic repairs sorted.
“Tenants shouldn’t have to shoulder the cost of letting agent fees – landlords are much better placed to shop around for a better deal.
“If you’re experiencing problems with your rented property, Ipswich Citizens Advice can give you free, independent advice.”