Why Do Letting Agents Charge Tenants An Admin Fee?

I’ve never understood this, so I’m hoping someone kind, gentle and sexy can shed some light onto the matter…

Most high-street letting agents charge both tenants and landlords fees during the process of finding-tenants, which actually makes no sense to me. I understand why agents charge landlords, but why the tenants? It’s like car dealerships charging someone a premium for buying a car. In fact, it’s like any consumer being charged to…errr…consume.

I know that the local agents around where I live charge tenants approximately £100. At least it was that last time I checked about a year ago. I’m not entirely sure if that’s a pretty standard rate across the country, or whether it drastically varies. Actually, I’m going to stop writing this post right now, and quickly throw the question out there on Twitter (quite a few Letting Agents follow me on Twitter)…

Why Do Letting Agents Charge Tenants An Admin Fee?

A few hours later…

Right, I’ve got a few responses, and here they are…

Why Do Letting Agents Charge Tenants An Admin Fee Responses

Ok, so it seems as though the prices do vary, and the premium is justified as “admin costs”, which I still don’t fully understand. What admin work is actually done for tenants to justify a £50 – £200 fee? Let’s not forget, the client is the Landlord, and NOT the tenant. So is it just me, or is it odd/unfair that a tenant has to pay a premium when Landlords are already paying through their noses for a service?

Renewal Fees

What’s more frustrating is that a lot of agents charge tenants the same admin fee again if a tenant decides to stay in a property longer than the fixed term in the tenancy agreement. The cost is commonly known as a “renewal fee”

So, for example, suppose I’m a tenant and a letting agent finds me a property, which I sign a one year contract for. If I decide to stay in the property for longer than a year, I have to pay the admin fee again. Seriously, WTF?!? What extra admin work actually has to be done? IT MAKES NO SENSE TO ME, especially when the Landlord also has to pay a renewal fee (but that’s an entirely different rant all together).

I just assume that a lot of agents don’t even know WHY they charge that admin fee, they just do it because all agents do it… and of course, it’s profitable.

If I were a tenant…

Assuming I was adamant on using a letting agent to find a property to rent, I would do the following:

  • Rates obviously vary from agent to agent, so I would get quotes from all local agents to see which one offers the most competitive rate
  • Agents themselves have told me the rate is open to negotiation, so I would try and get the lowest rate possible
  • If rates seem excessive, I would ask the agent what exactly I’m paying for. If the figures don’t stack up and I feel as though I’m being taken for a ride, I’d probably walk out based on principle.
  • Find out exactly what the implications are regarding the extension of the tenancy agreement e.g. If I decide to stay in the property longer than the fixed term, am I liable to be charged another admin fee? Some agents don’t charge a renewal fee, some do, it’s best to find out. Moreover, if the agent says there is NO renewal fee, I’d get that in black and white. Remember, you’d be a fool to trust a fool.

I’d just like to say many thanks to those on Twitter that responded to my question. It’s a bit of a shitty situation actually; they were kind enough to respond, but I’ve kind of stabbed them in the back by saying it’s a bullshit fee. Sorry, guys.

Love and Peace.

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141 Comments- join the conversation...

Showing 91 - 141 comments (out of 141)
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Benji 15th September, 2012 @ 07:44

'A fixed term agreement will indeed automatically roll onto a statutory periodic agreement HOWEVER this will not be the case if a Section 21(1b) Notice had been served on the tenant previously.'

This is incorrect.
A fixed term agreement automatically reverts to a periodic agreement whether a section 21(1b) has been served or not.

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Jackson Pyne Ltd 21st September, 2012 @ 09:56

I run a lettings agency in Buckinghamshire and I understand the frustration probably lies in the fluctuation of fees and service across agents. There is a no real "industry standard".

I find it perplexing that agents would say "everything is negotiable". If their cost is negotiable then their service probably is too. Anyone confident they offer a consistently professional service should charge consistent fees. My salary is no more negotiable than anyone in any other job.

What's more I think agents with little knowledge of their field and even less professionalism are the cause of the problem. I would begrudge paying a fee to a moron, much like I am happy to pay extra for good service, so the actual amount isn't relevent, it's what you perceive to be given in return for your money.

You wouldn't dream of asking your solicitor, or dentist, or pilot for a discount because you assume they are profficient in their field and worth the money. They problem lies in poor service, not expensive fees.

Ask me what you get for the referencing fees and my answer is clear; "our time, and the professionalism in which my staff will deliver their service".

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Jackson Pyne Ltd 21st September, 2012 @ 10:04

And on the issue of refunds, again, the agent is responsible for doing their job properly.

We have an application form that asks tenants to disclose CCJs, court decrees, bankrupcy etc. If they have been up front it seems hugely unfair to say "you failed the check, I thought as much, sorry you lose your fee".

If an applicant has wasted our time, I still wish to be paid for that time. If however they've been up front it seems cowardly to keep a fee.

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Ash 24th September, 2012 @ 01:56

I don't see why tenants should be forced to pay an admin fee for trivial things they are easily capable of doing themselves, I pay lots of businesses by standing order, it takes me the whole of 10 seconds to set one up online, they don't charge me an admin fee for doing so. And it doesn't take 10 hours to read a gas meter or check for a stain on a carpet, nor cost £150 for a credit check or to obtain references, especially where non exist as it's a first time renter or someone unemployed living off a large amount of savings or disability benefits.

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Sarah 1st October, 2012 @ 18:49

I am trying to rent a property. I told the estate agent i had no guarantor, on DSS etc. I have also explained this to the landlord when I went to view the property just yesterday. I was told by the landlord that there was a £325 upfront rent to pay and at least £200 deposit.

Today I was told I had to pay £180 admin fee to the estate agents for credit checks etc. HOW THE HELL will I pass a credit check when im on benefits and its my second renting (first is currently to family). Im now worried from reading the above comments that i'll lose my £180 from failing the credit check even though I have paid my rent full and on time for THREE YEARS! The same amount that this landlord is asking. So, they want to 'prove' i can pay my rent and bills and yet I cant just get my current landlord to phone or write (or even better, IN PERSON) say that this has all been perfect, no issues with me as a tenant... blah blah blah... done.

Im now officially worried sick as £180 is a lot just to be told "sorry you failed, you cant have this flat" ... worse as im loaning off family.

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Sam 21st October, 2012 @ 19:37

We are moving from one property to another one to downscale. In our current house we have £5,200 worth of bond ie money we can't touch. We have put in an offer on another property to lease and the estate agent wants £5,800 now - that figure includes £700 worth of fees!!!
Firstly we don't have that sort of money to hand over but, even if we did £700 is absolutely outrageous. I wonder how much they are charging the landlord. Has any one else come across fees this high? And, if so, what did you do? We are new to the country and feel like we are being taken for a ride.

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POD 23rd October, 2012 @ 10:35

Hi guys,

jut wondering if anyone can advise-

two of my friends live in a 3 bedroom property and I want to move in to the 3rd room. Their contract is up for renewal on Nov 1st. They've been told to renew the two of them for 6 months will cost £100 (what for?!) But to add me to the agreement will cost £275....how can I negotiate this fee? I think it's extortionate, given they are just adding another person to the tenancy- referencing & credit check for one person. I also
did my manatory school work experience for an agent in the same group as this one, and I know the 'work' carried out is all system generated- you just type in different names & address in to the standard agreements, print it out and charge. Hey, they let a 15 year old schoolgirl do it- is £275 really justified?

Just wondering what I can say to get this down?

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Jackson Pyne Ltd 23rd October, 2012 @ 10:56

In response to POD:

You are quite right that the majority of lettings paperwork is systems generated. This is the safest way of producing such important documents, especially if you have school-leavers doing it.

Getting the balance right for the cost of administration is always difficult. One pays their conveyancer over £1000 to buy a property, and an estate agent several thousand to sell one. The majority of that work is administration and compliance.

The point to remember is the owner of the property has instructed the agent, that agent's costs should be crystal clear from the beginning (including the cost of adding tenants) and renting a property through the agent is a decision to be made before the start of the tenancy with all those costs to hand. I vehemently disagree with agent's hiding admin costs but I also disagree with objecting to them once you have signed up.

Like any business, our charges are what the service provider believes to be fair, if people do not feel they are good value, that is the beauty of an open, competitive market.

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Jackson Pyne Ltd 23rd October, 2012 @ 11:00

To clarify,

"I vehemently disagree with agent's hiding admin costs but I also disagree with objecting to them once you have signed up."

I appreciate you haven't signed up for anything yet so the charge feels somewhat imposed on you, but the existing housemates should have known about all fees and consented at the beginning.

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Jeremy 23rd October, 2012 @ 21:12

Hello Sam,

Are you in Central London, renting something rather special? If not, both the deposit and fees sound far in excess of normal. If you don't mind saying, what's the monthly rental figure for your new home? And is the new place with the same agent that you're currently renting off?

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W&G 5th December, 2012 @ 18:35

Six months ago my partner and I rented a place and paid £190 fees and £800 Bond for a property asking £700 a month rental with Dacre Son & Hartley in Guiseley. We have since found that the place was not what we wanted so have applied for another home.

We have foubd a house, Same price £700 a month with Hunters Estate Agents in Yeadon, less than two miles move for us. Here the charges are £360 admin costs, using the same Homelet service. Also they ask for £1050 bond. We both feel as though we are being shafted by this agent yet we want this house so what are we supposed to do.

We cannot afford to buy, and we are all being penalised for renting.

I believe there should be a standard fee and not allow people to be Ripped Off everytime they want to move.

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Gary 12th December, 2012 @ 17:54

I don't mind if things are up front and agreed. However when an offer is made and accepted that should be the agreement. If there are any additional fees it is unethical to try so slip them in afterwards. I agreed a property in Canary Wharf, in the lease package I was sent today additional fees of £60 for referencing fee, $144 for Documentation fee, and £144 for an End of Tenancy Fee (payable now??) were included. These were never discussed nor agreed. In addition it also includes a £144 renewal fee at the end of the lease term to cover 'documentation'.

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Josephine 28th February, 2013 @ 12:16

It's all very well saying people need to be aware of fees upfront before signing anything - then walk away if too much. But these lettings agents have you over a barrel - if you want the property, and it's an area where decent properties are hard to come by - of course you're going to have to pay the fees. But that doesn't make the system fair.

Our landlady wants to move back in, so isn't renewing our tenancy. So we have to move. It's costing us £144 each for referencing, plus £75 'speedy referencing' (which could have been each, but they're 'doing us a favour'!) plus £60 to check-in, and same when checking out.
Another agency charges £190 referencing for a couple, no check in or check out fees, and £20 for speed referencing.

How is that a fair system when the charges differ so wildly??! If Scotland can have these fees abolished, why can't england? I've done the shelter survey on fees and I strongly suggest anyone renting also does this.

We are adamant our next move will be to our own house - but with this being our 7th rental property in as many years, the whole system needs an overhaul. Especially when you are forced to deal with an agent for management of the property, and not the actual owner.

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donna 5th April, 2013 @ 17:27

my cousin lives in Manchester and came to stay with me a month ago to house hunt, she found a house she liked and paid the £190 admin fees she then returned to Manchester to start packing, the estate agents phoned her to say she had passed all credit checks and so had her guarentors (my parents) but there was a hold up, after weeks of her phoning and trying to find out what was happening they said her guarentors were £10 short a month on their income to cover the cost of her rent!! and now they refuse to give her admin fee back. she is a single mother with a disabled son and now has to come all the way back to Doncaster to start house hunting again, I just think it is so unfair

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Gareth 3rd June, 2013 @ 18:44

I seem to have just found the same. £190 credit/reference checks. I was told it should be about a week to hear back, and happily paid up the money as I was so keen to get the flat and that nobody else could get it whilst my checks were carried out.

I then get told that my credit check came back as accept with a guarantor. I only found out by chasing the estate agents myself, and then they are saying that it will be £95 to pay to have a guarantor so I can get this property.

So £300 just in fees so far and I haven't even reached the deposit stage yet. This is absolutely disgusting and something needs to be done - furthermore to this, I was not even informed there could or would ever be any more charges so that has made me very angry.

I have informed watchdog and emailed OFT, something needs to be done about this.

In regards to my situation, Is it even legal for them to go and do this? They even charged me £3 for using my debit card on the initial checks! Absolute Joke.

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vivien 3rd August, 2013 @ 12:53

I am currently renting my property and using a well known estate agent. My current tennant has been in the property for 12 months, a month before the yearly fixed term rental agreement finished I was told I had to pay a fee of £200 to re-negotiate another fixed term contract with the same tennant, I was not made aware that I would have to pay again for this, having paid the fee for the first year. The tennant has since decided to move out and another tennant has been found, I have since been told I will have to pay £250.00 + Vat set up fee for this new tennant. It looks like the agents are getting the fees of both tennant and landlord to me. If I felt secure about not using an agent I would as it would benefit both parties.

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Julie 23rd August, 2013 @ 07:00

The problem with a lot of holding fees is that you do not get a clear agreement in writing, explaining what they are for, in what circumstances they will be returned, and when they can be withheld. The advice used to be: do not hand over any cash until you have a signed tenancy agreement.
For example: what if the tenant is honest and upfront, but the external credit referencing agency - which uses a tick-box approach and does not seek further evidence if there is a problem - still turns them down? What if the agency comes back later with an absurd tenancy agreement - very long minimum terms etc. - and then when the tenant turns this down, claims the tenant has "withdrawn"? What if the agency takes a "holding fee" but continues to show the property and accept other applications? What if the agency takes a holding fee, and the property is then not available for a month longer than promised, or is significantly altered. If the tenant then "withdraws", is the holding fee forfeit?
I've been trying to rent. I find letting agents make vague statements about these things that they refuse to put in writing. I think I'm actually quite a desirable tenant - could easily pay twice what I am being asked to - but because I have lived abroad, I am never sure if I will pass standardised credit checks. The agent should just gather the necessary evidence/checks and then put it to the landlord - or allow the tenant to pay 6 months' rent up front, which I would do - but it seems to be in their interest, instead, to take fees off multiple tenants.
Of course letting agents are entitled to charge for their work. I appreciate that - and appreciate very much the (few) agencies that are honest. But agencies charge the landlord. The landlord - one would hope - has a signed contract with the agency. Charging tenants to view is illegal, and these fees look like a dodge to avoid that. The way agencies behave has also put me off buying to let, as I would want help managing a place but, on principle, do not want my tenants treated in this way.

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Bez 29th August, 2013 @ 17:17

Sez! It makes me laugh that you think you can justify the fees you take because you 'work your ass off' you enforce these fee upon people that are perfectly capable of setting up their own standing orders to pay rent and utilities who are also capable of registering themselves for council tax - before you say 'how can the landlord trust you to set this up' coucil tax arrears follow the person so would have no affect on landlord if not paid ! You then ask ME to provide bank statements and wage slips- so tell me exactly how you justify me giving you 250?!

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Akin 29th August, 2013 @ 17:26

I am looking to extend my contract of my present apartment and the agents have asked me to pay the same amount of admin fees as this is deemed as a "new contract", is that what entails? Please help

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Joan 14th September, 2013 @ 17:11

I have been on viewing yesterday with Sterling agency. It was a 1bed flat for £625pcm. Also advertising as £144pw. Which makes almost £50 difference.
The total charges meant to be this way:
£200- 2 people references-NO REFUNDS lol
Reservation of min £250 & max £500-later on cut off the deposit price
Deposit of 1.5x mth ~£940
Mth upfront rent £625
Admin charges of £125. Cos it's up to 3bed!!
So basically for a £625 pcm you have to pay now about £2000 all in all just to move in and make it "ready to use".
How fantastic is that?! Totally disappointed.
Thinking now only about private landlord renting. And it's great that I found this website, so I could read all these true stuff about renting.

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Jagdish Iyer 29th October, 2013 @ 04:33

I would like to know the contact details of Sez. Would need an apartment for rent for long term. More after getting his best telephone number or email ID and company name. Thanks, J

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stevie carden 6th November, 2013 @ 17:41

I recently viewed a property with Nurture Lettings in Hale. I then asked to go ahead, i was advised i would need to pay £50 per person for a credit check and £150 Admin fee- (Which Toni never mentioned this was Non Refundable) if i decided not to go ahead- i recieved an email 1 hour later telling me. Nice! Take customers payments advise them after! It was on the news 3 days later advising girls had been raped in that area. So i then conatcted the letting agent and pulled out. They didnt even carry out any work, i had no calls etc and they are now telling me my money is theres! The Manager Chris is a bully, his emails he sent he used capital letters such as "you are NOT getting your money back" absolutely disgusted with there service and staff! Have reported them to OFT and Property Ombudsman!

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Dibyo 12th November, 2013 @ 01:06

I offered £x, the agent/ landlord accepted subject to referencing. We paid £ 480" referencing took 1 week, the agent confirmed that references are fine to go ahead. Suddenly agent called that the Landlord has got a better offer and has decided to go with the other tenant. The agent is willing to refund £480.
Now during this wait I have lost other properties within the locality I wanted to move to.

My family is disappointed as now we have to move outside the desired catchment do my sons school.

Do I have a claim. Please help. I do not want the tenant/agent to enjoy this action by throwing my family in the dark

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mckenzie 14th November, 2013 @ 13:18

There is this statement on an estate agency's application form... "Please note that should more than one application be submitted on any given property, the landlord’s decision is final. We are unable to refund any fees received."

How unfair is that?! Shouldn't they take the property ad off the websites or at least mark it as "Reserved" while they are processing an application with fee already paid??

With that statement, that would mean they can literally draw in multiple applicants and accept all their fees then in the end pocket all their money, leaveing all applicants except one lose their £120 for nothing! They could also lie and not put through any applicants to the owner and do the same over and over again until they have pocketed enough for a property. They could easily take £1,200 from 10 applicants for doing nothing.

I think there should be laws to regulate them, once they've accepted an application and in processing they should take that property off the market.

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Vessy 21st November, 2013 @ 13:59

After four years of renting the same property with Victor Michael in Leytonstone and paying every year for renew fee 115, we need now to either change one of the names on the contract or just remove it and stay only with two names. When we rented this proparty four years ago,we were 5 as this is 5bed house. We all paid admin fee and credit check fees,but the letting agency sad they can put three people on the contract. Now one of my housemates is moving out as she is expecting a baby soon and ask if we can change her name from the contract as she need to rent something else now with her boyfriend. I contact the agency as i am the main tenant and the rent goes from my bank account regarding this issue and they want 130 plus the renew fee,which together is 250, for changing the names,although ,the person we would like to put on the contract instead of our pregnant friend,lives with us from the begging and she has as well paid admin fee and credit chek fee when we first move in. When i sad that we are not happy to pay that,the Victor Michael stated that if we do not pay we should move out??? And this is after four years renting with them the same property,never been late with rent or any other problems. I am really considering now moving out,but i fear that all agencies are the same.

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mckenzie 22nd November, 2013 @ 14:50

Vessy unfortunately estate agencies are all about charging money and these days their prices are high. Renewing a tenancy agreement basically means filling in the blanks on a standard document template and get you and the landlord to sign and date, it doesn't take that much time or work but yet they will charge you quite a fee for it. They probably charge both the tenant and landlord too.

It used to have a lot more private letting ads but now unfortunately there seems to be all taken up by the agencies. I would rather go with private renting, can save a lot of hassel and costs.

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Sean 14th January, 2014 @ 20:11

Hello,

My Girlfriend has just been to a letting agents where they have charged her £99 just for the privilege of viewing flats for a three month period. Is this standard practice? I find it rather odd.

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sim 24th January, 2014 @ 18:26

Hi I was looking through to see where I stand with tenancy renewal. every 2 years I have to pay £151.00 to renew my contract. I'm hopeless at maths but £120.00 for renewal +20% vat is £144.00 so what is the additional £7.00 for ?? I don't get why I have to pay so much when they send it via email which I have to print out and then pay to send back. What admin fees am I paying for they just press a send button. My new contract came through and now they are charging me £120.00 if and when I decide to move out. I'm sure that this can be legal and have yet to sign my contract. I cant afford to move out as I wouldn't have enough for new fees but feel I am at the end of my tether in regards to there ways especially when nothing works and I cant seem to get in touch with them when I ask for work to be done. Half of the plugs no longer work (an engineer called out last year advised that I wasn't even earthed correctly) and the oven door needs the glass replacing. The toilet flush went and because the half flush works they are refusing to do any work on it. sorry about the rant just an extremely fed up tenant.

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JBean 26th January, 2014 @ 08:10

Sim £120 + 20% VAT (£24) = £144, there is no additional £7.00. Agencies find every opportunity to charge a fee and they probably would charge both landlord and tenant if they could. Last time I rented via an agency but when once the first tenacny agreement was signed and I've moved in, the landlord has chosen to handle everything themselves, I think that also saved them having to pay endless fees to the agency too.

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Renu 22nd February, 2014 @ 12:10

Can someone please advise me on the following:
Why a letting agent charge a tenant for the checks, admin fees, etc when at the same time, they do charge the landlord for the same tenant checks, agreements, paperwork doing for the tenants.
Why they are charging two sides for a same thing?

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Lesleyjo 4th March, 2014 @ 18:20

Can someone please help. I recently viewed a house and I was told that houses go very quickly in this area of Hampshire. I really liked the house and they accepted cats, I was due to go to Derby the day after so I was in a bit of a fluster as she said if I pay the £300 pound reference check the house would come of the market of rental. I was unable to print of the application form as I didn't have a printer so I sent the application form to my Boss who was going to be my gaurantor with all my information as I was travelling to Derby and wanted the house, I didnt sign the application form.

Now at the time I was told that As long as I tell the truth on the application form I would get the reference fee back If I didnt want the house. I told the women I had a motoring conviction and she said that was fine, Now they are saying my wages are not enough to cover the rent so I would have to pay 6 months rent, My boss said he would help do that but I dont his help. I have emailed and said I would like my reference fee money which she said I would get back as I have found a room share. Her response is we would have you as a tenant if you let your boss pay the 6 months rent so therefore No you cant have the £300 pound back, I am really stressed as it was my savings and I need to move out of this house I share with the ex.

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Angie 22nd April, 2014 @ 23:04

Hi, my daughter is single with two small children and is on benefits. She is after moving into a new house but the agency want £175.00 up front (non-refundable) for administration fees. her money is very tight and basically she doesn't have two pennies to rub together so that amount of money is a huge chunk out of her weekly budget. As mentioned above the agency could show 10 people around that house and only 1 will get it. Surely they are not going to do all the paperwork for all those people if they dont have to. In my opinion they are no better than theives. Why cant they just do a credit check first and just charge you for that then if thats ok and your sure to get the property you pay for all the admin fees. Something needs to be done about this its absolutely discusting. How do you sleep at night, shame on you.

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Tim 6th May, 2014 @ 06:17

The only way you would truly avoid paying these fee's is to find a private Landlord who has the sense to manage their business themselves. I recently rented a room in London, using a non-agent website. I initially dealt directly with the LL, then with the existing tenants. I didn't pay any 'admin'/credit check/reference fees. I understand that agents need to earn a living, but making tenants pay the agents seems odd - it is the LL who is their customer, who I believe should be accountable for the fees. Most Estate Agents are now nothing more than 'key holders' and photographers!
Tenants need to regain the power and dictate that they're just not willing to pay these often extortionate fees. Or just tell me that it is a fee to cover the wages of the Estate Agent - simple!

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john churchward 5th June, 2014 @ 11:55

i am moving into a student house next year, with six others, making it a seven bedroom house. After seeing the house once we agreed to go for it, the estate agent then asked for administration fee's of £200 each, making it a total of £1400 for the house just in admin fee's. IS THIS OKAY ?

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Dave 25th June, 2014 @ 12:56

My wife was pressured into signing before double checking the fees,

£480 Admin fee (This was discounted from £500 + VAT)
£120 Reference check
£155 Checkin/out

Unbelievable..

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Disgruntled Tenant 9th July, 2014 @ 09:31

Apologies if this is the wrong place to post this - just wondered if anyone can offer any advice re: an issue I am currently having with the lettings agency I rent through.

As with most properties, my rent has increased year on year. I have just entered my 3rd year in this property, and my rent has increased by £50 per month. After the first year it increased by £20 per month. These amounts are not too bad compared to other stories I have heard - this is certainly not my issue.

Yesterday I received an email from the lettings agency explaining to me that they have noticed that since my 3rd year kicked in (3 months ago), I have still not been paying the correct rent - this is completely my fault as I had forgotten to alter my direct debit. So, I expected that I would owe them £150 (£50 extra rent x3). Just to clarify, I asked them to double-check exactly what was owed (I also thought I probably owed the £90 renewal fee), so was very shocked at the response I got.

The agency informed me that after checking their accounts, they realised that for the whole of last year, I hadn't altered my rental amount either and therefore hadn't paid the correct amount now for 15 months (12 months of year 2 with the extra £20 per month and now 3 months of year 3 with the now extra £70 per month). Now, this is not unrealistic when it comes to me - I very rarely look at my bank account but I have no problem in paying for things. My shock is that they are asking me to pay the missing £450 in one go, which I cannot afford to do at the moment.

My main issue is that they never once mentioned this last year. No phone calls, no emails, no letters. They even carried out their standard twice a year property inspections and never mentioned it face-to-face. The landlord even visited about 4 months back and HE never mentioned the missing money to me. I have no doubt that I probably forgot to change the direct debit last year as I had this year, but for the agency to not be on top of this sort of thing is slightly concerning, and now very annoying when they ask me to pay it all in one go. I've politely responded and said there is no chance of that happening and that I am currently working out a payment plan of sorts in order to pay the outstanding monies back to them ASAP. Hopefully that will be ok, but I just wondered if anyone had any advice to give me, or in fact any legal loopholes that I can use in my favour in terms of how long I have to pay the outstanding balance?

Just to make things clear - I am happy to pay what I owe, I just don't like being put in a situation where I'm suddenly asked for a large amount of extra money when it is the agencies fault for not keeping on top of their accounts better.

Sorry for the essay! Please help if you can :)

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David 28th July, 2014 @ 10:09

To answer the OP, Estate Agents are the nastiest bar stewards you will find. We only forgot because of the noise about bankers, but these guys were complicit in that too.

The fees are just made up on the basis of "how much can we get away with charging someone who is desperate to find a home".

They are ripping off BOTH tenant and Landlord.

Think about it, they take a hefty 10%+ of your rent, but for what, they are charging the tenant for the same tenancy agreement mail merged with the tenant's name and address.

They charge the tenant £120 to check in, this INVENTED charge would be something landlords have done for years, so if the agent is doing it for the Landlord then it should come out of the fee they are taking every month.

I have seen 15 other "invented" charged where an agent has taken this to the extreme. The problem is that the more this goes on the more it becomes the norm.

It seems to me that they have adopted the Ryan Air model of charging for any little thing they can get away with.

All of these made up fees are just a cost of doing business, it is what they get paid by Landlords to do. The idea is that the is an economy of scale when a business does the same processes for many clients but they are trying to stitch both ends.

Such abuse happens because of the shortage of properties, they can get away with anything, It needs to be outlawed.

Now @Disgruntled Tenant if you owe the money and you accepted the increase in rent (more fool you - always appeal it) then you owe it. You could highlight the fact they are incompetant and suggest that you pay the increase over the number of months that it has accrued, so instead of paying £70 a month, you pay £90 a month for 12 months and then £120 for the following 3 months and then revert back to your £70 a month increase.

Personally I would contact the Landlord and let them know just how incompetent these guys are.

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Susana 30th July, 2014 @ 00:10

Good evening. Dear tenants imagine you as an entrepreneur, you just opened your Estate Agent... You try to rent as much as you can to be able to pay Business Rate, Paye, rent, salary, insurances, marketing, AT and the list just going on and on. You rent a property example one bedroom flat, tenants paid £400.00 administration fee from that £400.00 you have to pay the company check, time spent doing contracts, invoices, reply to the applicants enquiries about the moving in.... In another hand as there is a big competition the landlord doesn't want to pay a reasonable fee where they normally pay even 2% calculated from the monthly rent that would be approximately not more than £500.00. On top of that after 12 months the landlord cut the agency to keep the same tenant to avoid to pay any fee and the same vice verse , now I ask you all how can you pay your employes at the end of each month???

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David 30th July, 2014 @ 14:21

@Susana you have missed the point.

The fees you charge are the Landlord costs and they should be taken from your fee to them. This fee is typically 10% of the rent for a full service including visiting the property to make sure it has not been trashed.

Why should the Landlord pay, simple because the landlord is the BUSINESS end of the transaction. Their property increases in price, their rent exceeds their mortgage but even if it doesn't it does not matter because you have to look at the costs overall.

If structured correctly, these fees to Landlords can be offset against their taxable income on the property so there is no need for tenants to pay these obscene charges.

A friend of mine buys property to protect his money because banks only guarantee €100k, he buys small hotels, he does not seek to make a profit, in fact he uses losses to offset his profits elsewhere. The property price of these hotels increases over time and his money is secure.

Investing in property for rental is the same, and clever landlords structure their activities to offset costs against profits. Yes they need to pay for a decent lawyer and accountant, but their fees are also deductible.

Now if you can't structure your business to make a profit then that is your weakness. Mostly it comes down to SALES, the whole idea is that you get the economy of scale because you repeat these processes over and over again.

Now if you are an amateur and can't get your lawyer to contruct terms and conditions of sale that make the landlord liable for fees if a tenant you introduced until the end of the tenancy, well that is your lack of experience in business.

In the recruitment industry if an employer employs someone introduced by the agency they pay, even if they dismiss the agency and make a covert offer.

One agent had me key the data into their computer and it populated the tenancy agreement they printed out. This same tenancy agreement was used for hundreds of landlords and tenants. Total production cost, less than £1.

I know someone who runs a lettings agency, they run it from home, all their staff work from home, they have no office costs and no business rate.

You should not employ people until you have the income to pay them; that is a fundamental of any business.

No point you bleating on here because you can't run your business profitably when it is your lack of business experience that is the problem.

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Chris Leasmith 4th August, 2014 @ 14:55

^ brilliant.

Also @Susana, we all already know the reference checks, tenancy agreement etc only cost about £10-20 in time and tech to produce, so plucking £150+ out of thin air (twice if you're charging the landlord too) is just ripping people off.

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Ex-sharer 26th August, 2014 @ 09:34

I moved out of a shared flat over 2 years ago. Today, one of my ex-flatmates told me they were queried by the agent last week about whether we paid a "documentation/renewal" fee of £200 when I moved out.
Given I gave the stipulated month's notice after the 6 months' stipulated break, AND found a replacement tenant, I am also sure we paid all fees stipulated in that contract. When the new tenant moved in, all 3 tenants signed a NEW contract.
Did he just made up this "documentation/renewal" fee?

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Mary Davidson 26th August, 2014 @ 14:36

I've never ceased to be angry at the rip-0ff-the-tenant situation. I had a consideration on how to better it. For prospective tenants needing to prove themselves worthy, a governmental, national body should be set up which could conduct checks on an individual, paid for by that individual, and a law could be passed that agencies across-the-board have to accept that report. That way a single check could cover all agents and properties applied for and the check would only cost the actual cost. The check could be viable for a certain amount of time; a month maybe. And thereafter the individual would have a reasonable update cost.
I'm looking to rent again now. I'm asking around to find friends who rent locally, so I can approach landlords directly. Or looking online at properties advertised, then investigating in person - asking next door etc - to cut out the agent. Many landlords aren't big players and amenable to this.

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Jim 11th September, 2014 @ 17:12

We were charged unexpected fees of over £1000 by estate agents, AFTER £300 administration fees, to rent a house.

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David 12th September, 2014 @ 10:08

@Jim that is such a con, the worst thing is that it is not necessary, a landlord can offset any fees against his business profits, a tenant can't.

Most of these agents are leeches (blood sucking scum), they over charge landlords, use contractors who fleece them and then pass on those charges with an uplift to the landlord. I remember one plumber screwing up a toilet because access to the pipes was tight. He then said it was a bad install and said the whole toilet and plumbing would need to be changed. He said it was £3k the landord was told £3750. I asked a friend of mine to look at it, he put a new part in the cistern and improved the pipe work, parts £45 labour £150. Took less than 2 hours.

It is like any middleman, they are spending other people's money and so have no regard for it.

I was talking to a lady the other day who lives in a block, there are around 200 flats all communal areas cleaned by a company appointed by the agent. She said they write on a form every week their arrival time and how long they say. Well first off she noticed it is always 20mins, then she came home for lunch and found that they said they had been at 3.15 but it was 1pm. So she started to watch them, they spent 4 minutes the next week and 5 the week after.

When it comes to renew the contract they add up the 20 minutes per block of 6 flats, and that is the basis for the contract.

34 blocks x 20m = 680m x 52 weeks = 35360m / 60 = 590 hours @ £10.40 per hour = £6136 uplifted with agent proft to £7670

34 blocks x 4m = 136m x 52 weeks = 7072m / 60 = 118 hours @ £10.40 per hour = £1227 uplifted with agent proft to £1534

So a rip off overcharge of £6136

If they did their job they would "manage" the contractor, they would reduce the price per hour AND make sure they were only paying for what was used.

@Jim You should contact your local trading standards and report the agent to ARLA and any other organisation they are part of.

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W Solomon 15th November, 2014 @ 13:14

I have been asked by a referencing company to provide a reference for my 2 tenants who are looking to move to a new property. My tenants have not contacted me at all regarding moving. I am considering charging for providing a reference as this is my time which is not free! Does this sound unreasonable? I am thinking of charging £50 for each tenant.

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Benji 15th November, 2014 @ 17:33

@W.Solomon,

Does this sound unreasonable?

Yes it does for 5 minutes work.

Although you can ask for how ever much you want.

About half that amount is more normal.

Still unreasonable (and unprofessional) IMO.

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David 18th November, 2014 @ 01:57

MR Soloman

How would you like to be charged your hard earned money for this or something similar. Perhaps every time your debit card is checked online as part of taking your money.

Tenants are ripped off by agencies and now you want your cut.

Just do it for free and be glad that you had an uneventful tenancy.

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Glen 25th November, 2014 @ 10:39

Credit checks do NOT cost £200, £100, or £50. They are something more like £2 so where do the extra 0s come from? Estate agents are basically ripping people off.

You can quite easily look around private landlords and find one that you think is decent. If the property is well kept for example they probably do what they are supposed to as landlords.

The estate agents say "admin" fee. What admin? They go to WH smith, buy an agreement and you sign it. What does that cost? £5? Maybe £10 for their walk to the shop!

So in total the cost for an estate agent is no more than £20 ...add markup, i would say a final "admin" fee to the tenant should be no more than £50. Also not "per person" either, you only need 1 agreement per household, not per person.

Estate agents prey on inexperienced and vulnerable people.

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Benji 25th November, 2014 @ 14:05

@Glen,

A £2 credit check is not worth the paper it is written on.
Here is a link to the RLA's referencing (£29 per tenant);

http://www.rla-tenant-referencing.co.uk/services_full.aspx

That is the bare minimum a landlord should be doing. I would suggest landlords go into a tenant's past history a lot deeper than that.

A £2 referencing fee would not deter a dodgy tenant with something to hide. A £50 referencing fee would make them think twice before wasting your time.

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David 28th November, 2014 @ 13:16

Don't you realise that no credit check is going to help you when a tenant falls off the ladder.

I have had 7 credit cards with £70,000 of unused balance, yet I have been homeless and I have been on benefits.

The financial climate is such that it is almost impossible to dig yourself out of such a rut without support.

The answer here is for the next Government to ban ALL tenant fees, the first reason is because Landlords would not take such shit and tell the agent where to stick their RyanAir type charges. A tenant is not in a position to negotiate or argue so the scum agents abuse them.

The Landlord can take reasonable fees and claim them against their tax, a tenant can't.

The result of such legislation would be to kick the unprofrssional agent out of the market and increase competition by agents who can compete on providing competitive fees at a reasonable price.

I have experienced agents as both a Landlord and Tenant, I have yet to meet one who deserves the oxygen they breath. Their inspections are a joke, their contracts often invalid creating liability for the Landlord. Their referencing is nonsense, they charge hundreds for a something that can be done for £25. Their contractors overcharge because they know the game. I have seen some charge thousands and the agent adds 20% and passes it on, the biggest issue is that nobody will spend your money as wisely as you do.

They also charge rent way above the going rate, I have seen agents operating out of their bedrooms, putting ads on Gumtree for 30% above the going rate because they know they will find a tenant who is desperate. They did not protect the deposit, no PI issues and then they buggered off to Africa when it all went pear shaped, leaving the landlord to pay 3x the rent plus deposit.

What you can't beat is instinct, meet someone in a public place, have a coffee with them. Get references and contact them yourself, the only question you need to ask is "would you rent one of your properties to them again". Any hesitation tells you NO.

Oh and forget agents being members of organisations like ARLA, it is just a sanction from an industry of leeches for another leech.

People love to hate Bankers but who else would you have running the finances, insurance companies, the Government, all they needed was regulation and when that was removed they did what any right minded business would do they made money for themeselves at the expense of others.

Estate Agents on the other hand are in my humble opinion, TOTAL SCUM who exploit Tenants, Landlords, property buyers and property sellers.

We should do what they do in the Middle East, have Sunday hangings, OK a little extreme, I will settle for regulation as outlined above.

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