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Saturday, September 15, 2012

Letting agent fees

Letting agents are frequently criticised for unfair fees.  Firstly is this fair?  Well yes and no.  It is true that letting agents are largely an unregulated business. There are certain trade organisations such as ARLA that gives landlords a certain amount of redress but membership is optional.  There is no over riding professional organisation that decides how much you get charged for a specific service which ever letting agent you use like you may encounter if you go to a NHS dentist.  But in many ways aren't we all beyond that?  In a deregulated world isn't competition and variety of service and charging structures good?

All this lack of regulation means that the onus is on the landlord to ensure that they know exactly what they are signing up for and how much it costs.  So how much should I pay for my letting agent?

Shelter have recently carried out a survey where they reveal that one in four landlords and tenants feel hard done by because they have been charged inflated fees.  The obvious ones to look out for our dubious administration charges and a charge for unnecessarily renewing the tenancy agreement.  This activity was one that Foxtons in the past have used to much effect and criticism.

My advice is to make sure that before you sign up with a letting agency that you get an agency agreement and that you study it fully before signing.  If you don't get one and the letting agent refuses to give you one then don't use that letting agent

You can of course avoid all this potentially hassle by not using a letting agent at all.   The worlds your oyster when it comes to letting agents but just like anything in this life....make sure you know what the letting agent fees are and what you are agreeing to before you sign on the dotted line.

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Concerned landlord said...

It's about time we as landlords carried out our own survey to find out how many tenants a) owe more than one months rent and b) have wrecked our houses.

I find the whole shelter organisation a complete mockery of a charity and cannot see what good it does at all. It gives landlords a bad name and bad landlords are thankfully far and few but even with regulation they are still out there because nobody is licensed (unlike the USA) and tenants have free rein to do whatever they want.

bring on the revolution I say....

Anonymous said...

As far as Scotland is concerned..I think you landlords and agents need a wake up...check out ....
Current legislation explicitly prohibits charges for drawing up a tenancy agreement and furthermore it is an offence to require any premium as a condition of the grant or continuance of tenancy. This comes under section 82 of the Rent (Scotland) Act 1984 (imported into the Housing (Scotland) Act 1988 in respect of assured tenancies by section 27 of the Act). In accordance with Section 90, a premium includes any fine or other sum and any other pecuniary consideration‘ in addition to rent.

Anonymous said...

We need this south of the border too .. or would it just lead to an increase in other charges to cover the shortfall?

Anonymous said...

The Problem as a prospective tenant is that you generally have no idea what the fees are until they start trying to charge you for them. For example the letting agent 'managing' the property I am looking to move into is practically charging me every time I phone them up, which they are classing as "normal admin fees". Not cheap either try the tune of £69 per phone call.

Regulation can't come soon enough I say, follow Scotlands example I say.