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Claims government has snubbed 9 million renters over 'letting agent scam'

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Claims government has snubbed 9 million renters over 'letting agent scam'

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Published by Max Salsbury for 24dash.com in Central Government and also in Regulation

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The government has been accused of backing letting agents over renters by refusing to ban fees to tenants.

In voting on the Consumer Protection Bill yesterday, coalition whips defeated the ban 281 to 228.

The government instead promised new fines for agents who don’t publish their fee tariff.

Campaigners from housing charity Shelter and protest group Generation Rent have been calling for a ban on fees to tenants because of the "failure of letting agents to end the hidden fees scam, where agents apply unexpected fees once a tenant is committed to a property".

A recent ComRes poll showed that 30% of tenants are hit with these "hidden" fees and research carried out by Shelter showed that 1 in 7 tenants face fees of more than £500.

There is already a ban on charging both sides of a transaction for lawyers, recruitment consultants, financial advisers and travel agents.

Alex Hilton, director of Generation Rent said: “This isn’t a majority of agents but the hidden fee scam is still hitting a million tenants each year to the tune of hundreds of millions of pounds.

“The government commitment to beefing up regulations against hidden fees will be extraordinarily expensive for the taxpayer to implement if it is to be effective, while a ban on fees to tenants would cost almost nothing.”

Campaigners claim that the decision not to prohibit letting agent fees could hit the coalition's chances at next year's general election - 43 of the MPs who voted against the ban represent constituencies where private sector renters outweigh the MP’s majority by more than 3 to 1, 34 Conservatives and nine Lib Dems.

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