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.

123 Comments - join the conversation...

Showing 74 - 123 comments (out of 123)
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BL&LH2012-06-21 18:11:13

Hi, 5 weeks ago myself and my housemate found a house we wanted to rent, and as we have two pets we were asked to pay two months deposit (normal deposit is 1-1.5 months) upfront (19.5.12) to secure the property and were given a moving date by the estate agents of 2 weeks time (2.6.12). The house was going through a sale (by the same estate agents) and we were assured it would complete by the moving date given to us. The estate agent was aware my tenancy on my current property expired 5 weeks from the date we handed the deposit over (26.6.12), but he did not make us aware this would be an issue as we would be in the new property long before then. The moving date came and went, with the house still not completed. Over the next two weeks we continuously rang the estate agent for updates of the sale, to which we were given no help, just saying it was out of his hands. We are now at the point that the sale has still not completed and on Monday 25th June we are homeless if the house does not complete tomorrow (Friday 22nd June). We have lost money already as we booked a removals van which we had to cancel, losing our deposit, and we have both had to book Monday 25th off work (unpaid) in the event that we can use Monday to hold out to see if the house sells. If it does not we will have to put our belonging into storage and find a hotel to stay in until the house completes, as at 12midnight my tenancy agreement on my current property expires. So to clarify, the estate agent has had £1510 of our money for 5 weeks, with no offer of a refund until the sale goes through or receipt to say the money is in the DPS, therefore earning interest on our money (and we have lost it). We were given no forewarning that there was a chance the sale would not complete in time, as if we knew this prior to two days before we are homeless, we would have looked else where, as we needed assurance we would have a new home once the old tenancy agreement expired. Sorry for the essay and I hope I have explained it in a sensical way... We would be much appreciative of any advice or help on this matter, as in do we have a case to try and claim back expenditures? Are there any legal restrictions for an estate agent to advertise a property for rent before it has completed in the sale? Is the estate agent legally authorised to take the deposit from us before the sale has completed or should it have just been referencing fees and a holding fee? If yes is there a case to claim for misrepresentation? Thank you for any advice you can give

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Jeremy2012-06-24 22:41:25

Hello BL and BH,

I'm getting confused byt your story. Who's the landlord who will be the principal under your contract. Is it the person who's currently selling, or the person currently buying.

My advice would be quite different depending upon which person would be the landlord. Can you please just confirm this and then I'll let you know how I would go about getting yourselves out of this prediciment.

Thanks, Jeremy.

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BL&LH2012-06-25 10:55:29

Hello Jeremy, our landlord is the buyer. He has bought the house as a 'buy to let'.
Thank you for your reply so far.

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Jeremy2012-06-26 00:24:11

Thanks BL & BH.

I'm going to assume you've got some kind of written paperwork agreement here, either the AST itself or a receipt with details as outlined in your story (i.e. amount paid over in expectation of what benefits). Come back if this assumption is wrong.

So the agent made the following statements:
- The house is undergoing sale
- Nothing will de-rail the sale process (turns out to be untrue)
- So you can hand over £x to secure moving in date of 2-June (fate prevents this happening)

In contract law terms, you have suffered a mis-representation. Either Negligent or Fraudulent (depends upon what the agent really knew about the sale problems). But irrespective of that, the legal remedies are the same:
+ The contract is voidable at you option (i.e. you forget the whole thing and get all deposit money etc back);
+ You can sue for immediately consequent damages (like lost removals deposit and emergency accommodation expenses).

Although I don't often suggest people's first move to to a solicitors, your damages could be quite significant here. So get down to a solicitor very promptly to get them to get a letter written to the agent which outlines your position, which should be along the lines of:
+ You may still be willing to move into the original property, but you're going to immediately look for other properties (to reduce the time you need to pay for emergency accommodation);
+ If you find somewhere else before the sale, you will void the agreement and expect the return of all monies you paid to the agent.
+ Whether or not you move into the original house all your reasonable costs incurred in lost fees and hotel fees are to be paid to you as damages by the agent.

Please let me know how you get on.

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mau2012-07-17 21:34:45

Hi guys,

Can someone advise me please. I went to view a flat recently with my wife and we were happy with the overall condition and decided to rent. We were asked £100 as holding deposit and £120 for both our references which we gladly transferred to the agency account. After providing all the documentation for the references we were pretty much just waiting for a confirmation from the landlord. I then get an email from the agency advising that the property has been taken from the market by the landlord because he has a relative coming over from abroad and will need the property. The agency now says that they can reimburse the money for the holding deposit but not the references Now, I understand that situations out of our control can come up at anytime but why should we be out of pocket £120 because the landlord changed his mind. I am seriously thinking of taking this further. Can you please advise. Thanks

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Kraig2012-07-24 16:53:09

@Mau: Just had the same conversation with my potential letting agent and they said that if for any reason the landlord pulls out then it is THE LANDLORD that is responsible for refunding any fees you may have incurred so far. Hope this helps.

I'm seriously sick of how much we get charged in England to move into a property. I'm getting charged £120 between me and my partner for referencing and £60 each on credit checks (isn't an online credit check as little as £5?! And again, all of this (£340)is none-refundable. I asked if the agent could process the credit checks first therefor making only £120 of it lost if they don't come back as "acceptable" and they said no. Just flat-out 'no'.

Also, why on earth is this illegal in Scotland and not in England?! What on earth is our government playing at to allow this to continue? It's not like we have any choice as tenants and every time I hear any justification for what our money is spent on it's always some vague term (like the tweeted replies above) saying "admin fees" or "referencing fees" or "financing fees".

If this money is justifiably taken from us then fair enough but I would like to see some changes which start with a detailed itemization of all fees paid. If I have to spend £60 on a credit check then I want to see a god damn receipt!

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kaz2012-07-28 18:28:07

Im a single mum who works part time so i get full housing benefit,every estate agent i come across want admin fees and deposit and 4 weeks rent and a guarentor, i can get all this but would fail a credit check due too previous debts when i was married any advice???

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cardifflandlord2012-07-29 15:47:41

Unfortunately Kaz you are going to be in the hands of the letting agent when it comes to the credit check. Hopefully you will find an agent who is open minded and looks beyond a credit check and your past issues.

Good luck

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Jeremy2012-07-31 23:00:13

Hello Mau,

The landlord is the principal to the contract and the agent is acting as, well, their agent. If you're really serious about taking this further then see if the agent is in the Property Ombudsmen scheme. If they are go there. If not and all else fails then you're off to Small Claims process of High Court. If you do that then name landlord and agent as joint defendents.

Please do not get drawn into a debate as to whether you chase the agent or the landlord. They will collude together to blind you with science. Approach the agent. If they say is't the landlord, then your response is: "You are the landlord's agent and I can seek remedies from you. If you need to pass those costs back to your landlord, that is a matter between yourselves and him"

Please let us know how you get on.

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Mau2012-08-16 13:59:18

Thanks @Kraig and @Jeremy,

I manged to resolve this matter with the agency and they have reimbursed the admin and references fees. Thank you for your advise.

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Patricia O'Neill2012-08-21 22:42:55

Hi I have put a deposit of 250.00 on a deposit for a property which is refundable when i move in. The estate agent said i need to supply information for garantors for referencing as i am on income support. I needed to put both both my mum and dad down as garantors as one did not earn enough money to cover the gurantor of the property. The Estate agent agent has said that i need to pay £144.00 for each of my gurantors and and £144.00 for myself totaling to 432.00 which is not refundable. can you please tell me if this is right or advise how i might negosiate. thank you

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Graham T2012-09-05 20:22:15

I have read the full article and a lot of information has been posted. Thanks to everyone.

My RENEWAL (just stressing not a set up/initial admin fee) has gone up £50 every time!

It was £50 then went to £100 and last year I went nuts when it was £150, however I have just had an email saying its due next month...

If they try and say its £200 this year then I am going to go ballistic and really kick off. Its only a renewal so surly £150 is way over the top?! Baring in mind I have NEVER had an inspection inside my property, paid rent on time and have had no complaints. How can this go up and up each year, and now be so expensive?

I was happy (well.. as happy as can be) to pay the initial set up admin fee and I semi accept what SEZ is saying about working for free..... surly you are on a salary or wage though Sez; so you are getting paid?! Bit confused about that; are you suggesting that one (not all) element of your personal wage comes from just admin fee's? (That would be like me charging students to mark their work as a teacher?) Not having a pop just curious.

Anyway; I shall report back but it looks like another skint month for me... gutted!

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Tamara2012-09-08 17:22:59

Well, you can't be charged by the agent when you stay in the property after the initial fixed term. What he wants to charge for is the printing out of a new tenancy agreement. The tenant has no legal obligation to sign a new one. A tenancy agreement never expires or runs out.
My letting agent tried to bully me into thinking that if I don't sign a new one I must move out! They were going to give a notice to my landlord on my behalf! And they were not even a managing agent!
Regulation of managing agent is a must, when tenant and landlord has no direct contact...it's very dangerous business.

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Tamara2012-09-08 17:37:11

I'm just reading all these threads and shocked how many stupid tenants are... sorry... but I mean when agents demand you to renew a contract why do you sign and pay??? A tenancy agreement NEVER runs out. It turns into a periodic agreement. An agent can't force anyone to sign a new one and they can't give a notice to a tenant.It can only be ended by LANDLORD OR BY TENANT.
And frankly as long as you are a paying tenant the landlord won't give you a notice just because you didn't sign again. STOP BEING STUPID!

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Graham T2012-09-08 17:47:24

Tamara - we may be stupid in your opinion but we have not experienced what you have. Hence us communicating on here. Are you 100% certain that it would stand up in a court of law if we refused to pay a renewal fee? If so then all these letting agents around the UK have a lot to answer for.

I have since had an email and my renewal fee is now indeed £200 + VAT!! (see my post above)


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Tamara2012-09-08 18:27:11

Dear Graham, your renewal fee is £200 plus VAT. But do you actually sign a new tenancy agreement? You are not obliged to. Your tenancy agreement is still valid. If you sign a new tenancy agreement then -as we can see from experience, agents will charge you.

My point is if you don't sign-you don't pay.

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Benji2012-09-08 20:17:55

You are bang on correct in what you say.
However, there are also a lot of stupid landlords out there who believe everything their letting agent tells them.
Some Agents (not all) will claim the tenant is being 'difficult' and refusing to sign up for another 6 month agreement and insist the tenancy is ended.
The tenant has to move out, the landlord loses a good tenantt and the letting agent creates a
set of fees.

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Graeme Miller2012-09-14 22:44:10


I understand where you're coming from, but you're giving advice to people and not including all the information necessary for them to make an informed decision. Here's some extra info people may find useful:

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. As has been written in another post on this site, all good landlords and agents serve this notice at the beginning of the tenancy with the rest of the paperwork (i.e AST, prescribed information, inventory etc). Therefore the tactic of refusing to sign a new tenancy agreement at renewal in the belief it will allow you to stay on a periodic basis could be inaccurate and put you in a lot of trouble.

Secondly there is an advantage to both landlords and tenants in signing a fixed term agreement - commitment. Some landlords might not be happy knowing their tenants could give just 30 days notice from the rent due date right at a time when the market is quiet i.e around Christmas. Likewise, some tenants might not be happy knowing their landlord only has to give 60 days notice from the rent due date to find a new property and leave. Therefore attempting to force the landlord or agent's hand into accepting a periodic agreement CAN be interpreted as an act of 'being difficult'. The landlord may actually WANT a fixed term agreement!

An agent's role should be to explain to both parties the advantages and disadvantages of both fixed term and periodic agreements and negotiate an outcome. And given some of the misinformation people seem to spread, all be it in the spirit of free of advice, it's important to have professionals to turn to. And professionals get paid for their expertise, their experience, their time. The question is how much is it worth?

Try this instead. Before you view the property you're interested in, find out what their fees are, ALL of their fees. That way, if you're unhappy with the charges, you can say "It's a lovely property, I would like to make an offer, but your fees are too high. Goodbye". The agent will loose the sale, and over time when there are no leads for the property, the landlord will start to question the agent why. Eventually, the landlord may choose to use another agent that might have more success in finding a tenant for the property, an agent who's fees are more reasonable and therefore more likely to rent their property. Over time, the business that charges the earth will be forced to either reduce their prices, or close shop.

To suggest an agent willingly terminates an agreement in order to garner more fees seems a bit credulous to me.

That's my advice!

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Benji2012-09-15 07:44:21

'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 Ltd2012-09-21 09:56:33

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 Ltd2012-09-21 10:04:00

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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Ash2012-09-24 01:56:19

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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Sarah2012-10-01 18:49:10

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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Sam2012-10-21 19:37:51

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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POD2012-10-23 10:35:44

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 Ltd2012-10-23 10:56:50

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 Ltd2012-10-23 11:00:12

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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Jeremy2012-10-23 21:12:23

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&G2012-12-05 18:35:13

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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Gary2012-12-12 17:54:11

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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Josephine2013-02-28 12:16:56

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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donna2013-04-05 17:27:18

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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Gareth2013-06-03 18:44:46

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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vivien2013-08-03 12:53:59

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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Julie2013-08-23 07:00:47

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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Bez2013-08-29 17:17:57

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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Akin2013-08-29 17:26:09

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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Joan2013-09-14 17:11:46

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 Iyer2013-10-29 04:33:26

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 carden2013-11-06 17:41:08

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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Dibyo2013-11-12 01:06:24

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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mckenzie2013-11-14 13:18:50

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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Vessy2013-11-21 13:59:49

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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mckenzie2013-11-22 14:50:43

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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Sean2014-01-14 20:11:40


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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sim2014-01-24 18:26:28

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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JBean2014-01-26 08:10:35

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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Renu2014-02-22 12:10:45

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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Lesleyjo2014-03-04 18:20:36

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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Angie2014-04-22 23:04:10

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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