Calls for legislation after reports of landlords charging upfront booking fees

There are calls for the Government to bring in legislation which would stop landlords charging prospective tenants upfront fees and high deposits.

Housing charity Threshold has revealed that one woman contacted them after she was told to being €500 with her to a viewing of a property. Threshold has since clarified that such fees were not "viewing fees" as originally believed, but upfront booking deposits, some of which were non-refundable.

At the moment, there are no laws preventing a landlord from asking for such deposits.

Chief executive of Threshold John-Mark McCafferty says it allows landlords to discriminate between potential tenants.

"It provides a barrier where there is so little to let," said Mr McCafferty.

"Everyone will grudge paying that - but those on middle to high incomes will feel 'well, what choice do I have? I really want a shot at this accommodation'...(but) For people who are on lower incomes (and) people who are on Rent Supplement or HAP, it's clearly way beyond the capacity of many to (pay)."

In a follow-up statement, Threshold said: "While anecdotally the term 'viewing fee' has been used by Threshold callers, Threshold's client records only refer to upfront booking deposits and more limited references to non-refundable booking fees.

"Upfront payments are a particular issue for HAP recipients and those on low income, as they simply don't have the resources to meet this unrealistic demand and the HAP scheme does not facilitate advanced payments for bookings. Threshold views this as an exclusionary mechanism, impacting on low-income and HAP tenants.

"As these upfront sums of money are a barrier to prospective tenants, changes in the law are required to prevent requests for upfront fees and high deposits (e.g. two to three months the equivalent in rent)."

- This story was updated on October 18 to reflect new information from Threshold, clarifying that its records show the upfront payments were not 'viewing fees', but booking deposits.

Digital Desk

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