Cash-strapped students are being “fleeced” by Dundee letting agencies who charge extra fees, a campaign group has claimed.
Companies are asking locals for sums of around £25 to run simple checks on tenancy history.
This is despite laws which clearly state leaseholders should only pay a monthly rent and a deposit.
Jake Mace is leading a campaign to end the charges as general secretary of the Dundee Student Renters Union.
He describes the charge as a “legal loophole”.
Mr Mace, a second year Philosophy and Politics student at Dundee University, said: “Tenants are being fleeced out of cash by referencing fees.
“They should not be able to do it. It fits in this little legal loophole.
“I think it’s a real moral affront. As much as it’s legal, it’s not what is intended in law.”
Section 82 of the Rent (Scotland) Act 1984 outlines what fees a landlord can levy and is designed to prevent tenants from being exploited.
It states they cannot ask a tenant or prospective tenant to pay any charges except rent and a refundable deposit of no more than two months’ rent.
It is not illegal to charge the reference fee but to comply with the law, landlords should give prospective tenants the option not to pay it and obtain their own reference.
Mr Mace added: “Landlords and letting agents charge these fees because they’re under no obligation to provide a reference yet all of them will still be expecting a reference from your last property.
“On top of this, they’re charging £25 or more a pop for five minutes of admin work which is a ludicrous justification for what is essentially just profiteering.
“Although these fees may not be great in numerical value, they are a hinderance to free and fair renting. By charging these fees, landlords are judging that their personal reference is essentially valued at a premium.
“We are opening a broader campaign; it’s not just students this is happening to.”
One local letting agency, AKG Property Group, based at the Nethergate, say the fees are legal and are justified because of the time involved.
The company is one of the main providers of student accommodation in Dundee.