Dealing direct with private landlords may be better for tenants than using an agent, a charity has suggested.

Private landlords often prefer to deal with letting agents as they provide services such as tenant credit checks and arrange for tenancy agreements to be signed.

Renters often believe that arranging their accommodation through a third-party will provide them with protection from unscrupulous landlords, but a new Citizens Advice report has suggested it is sometimes the agents who cause problems.

Citizens Advice's research found evidence that agents were levying a wide range of charges on tenants.

It concluded that the size of these charges was often unrelated to the amount of work involved and also noted cases where agents charged both private landlords and tenants for the same service.

The organisation's chief executive David Harker called on the government to introduce regulatory controls to the letting agent sector.

"People often think that renting through an agent is a safer option than dealing direct with a landlord, but our evidence clearly shows that it can be a risky business for tenants,"Mr Harker added.

Landlord legal issues have been in the headlines recently because of the High Court case between the Office of Fair Trading and Foxtons relating to the letting agent's tenancy renewal charges.

Written by John WeeksADNFCR-2002-ID-19185479-ADNFCR

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