/ Home & Energy, Money

Your view: what do you think about letting agent fees?

A to let sign on a building

Our mystery shoppers found that some letting agents are not being up-front about the fees they charge. We think this practice is breaking the law, and we asked you for your rental experiences.

The rental market is growing all the time, and more of us are using letting agents to find a new place. If letting agents don’t explain their fees in advance, it’s hard for us to shop around and find the best deal.

You gave us your perspective on letting agents and their practices. Dan shared a tenant’s viewpoint:

‘It’s true about getting your deposit. They will try anything to hold onto money that they think is theirs. I had mine withheld from me due to a baking tray being “scratched”. In all honesty though, I wouldn’t have a clue what the fees are for, but I don’t expect anything else from letting agents.’

On Twitter, Thomasjralph found his contract renewal fee a bit odd:

Kind Landlord was shocked to find that letting agent fees work both ways, in our Comment of the Week:

‘I am a landlord and I always try and look after my tenants, as I realise that finding the rent money every month is a big burden for many people. I have been paying a considerable amount of money to letting agents for many years, but I had no idea that tenants had to pay any money at all, until my daughter rented a flat. Wow! What a shock. The lettings agents are getting fees from both sides! Pure greed.’

We also heard from a contractor who is feeling the squeeze:

‘It’s not just tenants who are in the dark about fees. I work as a contractor doing maintenance work to tenanted properties. Unknown to landlords, some of these agents also charge contractors an introductory fee for finding them work at the properties rented out by them on the landlords’ behalf. This fee can be between 10% & 20% on both labour and materials, depending on the letting agent.’

So what does a letting agent have to say? Tony gave us the details:

‘We do charge what we consider a modest application fee of £195 per property application (to include all prospective tenants). We refund it if the application does not proceed through no fault of the applicant. We do not charge inventory fees, renewal fees, etc. Without such a fee we would be subject to considerable messing about by applicants who may submit numerous and ultimately aborted applications on various properties, wasting our time, incurring costs and delaying lets for landlords, who, don’t forget, are also consumers.’

Are you a tenant, landlord or a letting agent? What’s your perspective on the charges faced by people looking to rent a home?

Simply Rent says:
21 March 2013

We are a Residential Letting Agency based in the north west of England and have been operating for 20 years. We have never charged tenants any fees for renting a property and have been appaled by reports of fees charged by other agents. If an applicant makes a false statement on an application form we make a small charge (£25) but otherwise our application and referencing process is entirely free of charge to tenants. Neither have we ever accepted money for accepting contractors onto our register and nor do we add any mark-up to contractors bills for work which we arrange. As an established Letting Agency we would be delighted to see regulation or legislation to force all such fees and charges to be declared up front

Just been stung for £150 for admin fees when my daughter applied to rent a flat whilst she does her Master degree. As I refused to sign an unlimited liability deed of guarantee it did not go through despite offering 12 months rental up front! I believe this is contrary to Unfair Terms Legislation and have told them that I will pursue this through the small claims court particularly as they gave no explanation as to what the fees were for, never mentioned it was non-refundable, and did not provide any information regarding the checks that they wanted to make or the terms of the Deed. Had I known what they wanted me to sign at the outset I would have walked out. This is a national company too!