Even though the government has promised to ban letting fees, our crowdsourced research project at lettingfees.co.uk continues to build up a picture of renter exploitation around the country. Renters in Bournemouth and Brighton & Hove now have an online comparison of letting fees in their area, which will help them avoid the rogues who are either charging excessive fees or just not publishing theirs.
Of the two towns, Brighton has the pricier lettings market, with an average of £447 charged to a two-adult household, compared with Bournemouth's £432. The running average (based on 12 local areas) is £400. Bournemouth has the larger number of agents flouting the law by not publishing fees - 10 - compared with 5 in B&H.
The data was gathered by Generation Rent volunteers and, in Brighton, the local Living Rent campaign.
We took our initial findings to the local councils and asked them to investigate the non-compliant agents. In both places, a significant number of those agents since published their fees (the numbers above are those who are still being shady), which suggests that this project is having a real impact in raising standards.
Even though the government says fees are on their way out, we aren't taking anything for granted and will be continuing to gather information about letting fees in other parts of the country. This will help more renters who still have at least a year to wait until fees are banned in law. It will also help us strengthen the evidence supporting the reform which we will present to the government when they invite responses to their proposals.
That means we still need help from volunteers - so if you have an evening or two spare, please get involved. The research can be carried out online and you can get started via a local area page on lettingfees.co.uk.