Letting Agency Fees

David Lawrenson of Tenants-Renting-Guide.com tells you the basics about fees that you might be charged by a lettingu00a0agent or landlord.

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Letting Agency Fees

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If you are in Scotland, you are in luck as hereu00a0a letting agent or landlord cannot charge fees to tenants. The only thing they can charge for is a deposit and for the rent. Nothing else.

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Turning to other countries in the UK, the law says that fees that are going to be charged to tenants in connection with the setting up of a tenancy must be displayed by the letting agent or landlord in their advertising or at their website and at their offices (if they have one).

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The kind of fees you could be chargedu00a0for include doing a reference check on you, a fee for a guarantor check, a fee for drawing up the tenancy agreement, a fee for the inventory, a check-in feeu00a0etc.

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The list can be quite long and can even include tenancy renewal fees too (which means you could be charged every year) as well as end of tenancy fees.

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The averageu00a0fee at the start ofu00a0tenanciesu00a0is thought to be around u00a3350.u00a0The more tenants that need to gou00a0on the tenancy, the more it can costu00a0and if there are guarantors too, this can bump up the fee even further.

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In my view,u00a0for most letting agents and for some landlords, the level of fee is oftenu00a0far more than the actual cost of doing the work – and isu00a0a nice little earner for them.

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Rip Off Tenant Fees

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For example,u00a0as a private landlord, Iu00a0pay an external agency just u00a38 per credit check and it takes me about 5 minutes to input all the relevant tenant data. But most letting agents charge at leastu00a0u00a360 for this work. So,u00a0quite a hefty mark-up!

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And in the case of a letting agent, don’t forget that theyu00a0also charge fees, (oftenu00a0for the same services) to the landlord too, (who after all is their main client).

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So it seems to meu00a0a little rich for an agent to billu00a0excessive charges to tenants other than a reasonable fee for the true cost of reference checking,u00a0inventories etc.

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So what does the law on this say and what should you do if you think you are being cheated?

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What is really daft is the way the law on this was constructed in that it failedu00a0to takeu00a0account of how most tenants actually search and shop for a property to rent.

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It is hard to know exact statistics on this, but it is likely that a majority ofu00a0tenants shop online using the likes of Rightmove and Zoopla. But here is the really daft thing – these portals (as they are called) are under no obligation to actually display the fees that you might be charged.

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Yes, it’s really crazy, because for many tenants, when they see an advert for a let property,u00a0will have no idea what fees theyu00a0might be charged.

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This means you have to ask the letting agent or the landlord.

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And they must tell you. It is the law. Find out in writing before you go to a viewing.

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For a letting agency the level of fees should also be clearly displayed in writing on the website and in their offices. If it isn’t and you cannot find out easily, please do yourself a favour and report them to the local Trading Standards Office, as they are breaking the law.

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And whatever you, don’t rent a property from them, because if you they cannot do even thisu00a0right and in accordance with the law, how are they going tou00a0treat you going forward?

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Do yourself a favour and find an honest letting agent or landlord instead –u00a0one who is honest and clear about fees and ideally one whose fees are not too onerous.

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There is lots more advice for you in my book – see the links below.

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