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:
@whichaction I got charged £135+VAT for a new contract when renewing a 1-year lease, but no contract ever came!
— Thomas Ralph (@thomasjralph) March 5, 2013
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?