/ Home & Energy

Have you ever been let down by your letting agent?

A key with a house shaped keyring

Today brings welcome relief for many private renters and landlords, and a win for us at Which?. New laws have come into force requiring all letting agents to sign up to an ombudsman scheme.

Now anyone experiencing a problem with their letting agent in England and Wales, whether a tenant or landlord, can have their case investigated. This could then potentially lead to redress.

The law is already stronger in Scotland. Letting agents are required to adhere to a statutory code of practice. It’s also a criminal offence for letting agents to charge fees in Scotland.

High letting agent fees

We lobbied hard for these changes after our 2012 investigation identified a number of issues, including:

  • High and unexpected fees: we found cases of tenants paying over £500 in administration fees, and finding out about these too late in the day. We estimated that tenants are paying in the region of £175m in agent fees each year.
  • We found that many tenants were dissatisfied with their agent, with reports of aggressive sales tactics, poor customer service, missed appointments and misleading out-of-date ads.
  • At the sharp end we found examples of both tenants and landlords losing sizeable amounts of money – at times thousands of pounds – through agents not passing on rent or unfairly handling deposits.
  • On top of all this, 40% of agents weren’t signed up to a redress scheme. So anyone using one of these agents wouldn’t be able to seek redress without going through the courts.

Letting agent redress schemes

The legislation, within the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act, means that as of today all agents must be signed up to one of three schemes: The Property Ombudsman, Ombudsman Services Property or the Property Redress Scheme. These schemes will also consider cases where information on fees wasn’t as clear as it should be.

This is your chance to take action and make a complaint when you experience a problem with your agent, but also to report them if you find they’re not signed up to one of the above redress schemes.

Have you ever had a problem with a letting agent, whether you’re a tenant or landlord? And how much have you had to pay in fees when you’ve started renting a new house?

ruhul says:
7 October 2014

I lived in a property in East London for 17 Month, my letting agent didn’t put my one month deposit money in any deposit scheme, instead I was given a receipt from letting agent pad, on top I paid £400 agency fee. I left the house middle of a month, the agency manager told me he will refund half the deposit money as I used half of the deposit money. …………….now 10 weeks I am still chasing him by email and phone. I visited him one day, he told me he will transfer that week, but didn’t.
Still chasing …………… very painfull if I don’t get it

Hi ruhul thanks for your comment – a very frustrating situation. You may find the information on this page useful:


Dear Sir or Madam,
Is there any kind of legal limit for tenancy fees?
A tenancy agency is asking me:
– £ 300.00 for credit reference and administration costs.
– £ 120.00 for a guarantor.
– £ 90.00 for any possible permitted occupier.
– £ 120.00 for any tenancy amendment.
– £ 120.00 for any tenancy extension (printing a new contract updating the tenancy dates).
– £ 120.00 as check out fee.
I am referring to letting a flat in Middlesex, not in London and in the capital I have never been charged similar amounts.
Can tenancy agencies do whatever they want to without any control?
Many thanks in advance.

jen says:
4 August 2015

i am thinking of buying two houses with no mortgages and letting them out to provide a small imcome for myself . how is tax worked on this if it is used to provide a wage

I had a nasty experience with a large well-known estate agent a few years ago who let my house out to a ‘Lithuanian and his family’, and did not take a copy of their ID, did not do proper reference checks, even though I paid for them. This man completely ruined our house, turning it into a large cannabis factory. I complained to ARLA, as Countrywide insisted they had done everything by the book (even though the tenant had already been turned away from another agent we were also listed with). ARLA found them negligent on several counts but could not force them to pay the cost of repairing our house (£20,000) as they were not then part of the Property Ombudsman. We did not take them to Court as we had already had a traumatic experience, and we did not want to face the prospect of paying their fees if we lost.