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StuRents Survey Shows That a Majority of Students Think That Booking Fees Are 'Fair'

Posted by Ross Jones-Morris in ,

Image courtesy of Flickr, Creative Commons

As parliament looks to enforce a blanket ban on letting agent fees, a new survey by StuRents shows that a majority of students believe that being charged a booking fee on their accommodation is actually 'fair'.

On November 1st the Tenants' Fees Bill was published. The draft bill outlines a large amount of new legislation regarding the private rental sector and outlaws fees levied by agents before, during and after a rental. Specifically the bill bans four main things:

  1. Double charging of tenants and landlords for the same services.
  2. Any tenant payments beyond their rent and a refundable deposit.
  3. Holding deposits larger than one week's rent.
  4. Security deposits larger than the equivalent of six week's rent.

The bill also contains provisions to levy fines of up to £30,000 on agents that break the terms of the proposed legislation, and also mentions the possibility of criminal prosecution.

A statement made upon the publication of the bill by Communities Secretary Sajid Javid read as follows:

"Tenants should no longer be hit by surprise fees they may struggle to afford and should only be required to pay their rent alongside a refundable deposit. We're delivering on our promise to ban letting agent fees, alongside other measures to make renting fairer and increase protection for renters."

Unsurprisingly, letting agents have reacted negatively to the legislation, stating that it is both unrealistic and, in contradiction to Sajid Javid's statement, unfair.

More surprisingly, a new survey by StuRents has shown that a large amount of potential student tenants - at least somewhat - agree.

StuRents asked 503 actively house-hunting students the following question: "What do you think is a fair fee to be charged by your letting agent when booking a property?"

Their responses in full were as follows:

Fee Respondents %
Nothing 222 44.1%
£50 or Under 117 23.3%
£51 - £100 108 21.5%
£101 - £150 45 9.0%
£151 - £200 5 1.0%
£201+ 6 1.2%

As one might expect, the largest response among students was 'Nothing', the answer for 44.1% of those asked.

However this also represents a minority, indicating that the majority of students asked think that booking fees levied by letting agents are, in principle, 'fair'. It also indicates that even among a financially vulnerable group like students, abolishing "surprise fees they may struggle to afford" does not necessarily 'make renting fairer'.

However, there was a limit to the amount the students thought was a fair fee to pay. 44.4% of fee-positive respondents think that any fees being charged should be £100 or under.

Only 11.1% of students thought higher fees constitute a 'fair' charge.