A few years ago I wrote a blog post (feels shitting bizarre that I’ve been blogging for so long and I can refer to stuff I wrote years ago) about Letting Agents Charging Tenants An Admin Fee– perhaps some of you veterans remember it. My gripe was, I couldn’t quite understand WHY letting agents charged tenants an “admin fee” when they were already milking landlords. The landlord is the customer, not the tenant. So I made the point that it was unreasonable for lettings agents to charge tenants.
Obviously, due to the fact I was covering such a riveting topic, the blog post received quite a few responses, which included several letting agents justifying the reasoning for charging tenants an admin fee. Apparently the fee is imperative to cover the costs of referencing the prospective tenants. Fair enough, I say reluctantly, as long as the fee isn’t extortionate (because there’s no need for it to be. But I still think the landlord’s fees more than covers those expenses). Either way, as with all my awesome posts, fun was had by all during the discussion. So if you’re reading this while you’re in the midst of sinking into your chair during the working hours of your bullshit job, surrounded by your bullshit colleagues, and contemplating whether life is worth living, perhaps you’d like to catch-up by reading the blog post linked above; otherwise it’s probably not worth it because there’s better shit to do in this world, and I’ve covered the gist of it anyways.
So, yesterday evening I was having a gander on Facebook and reading through my community’s status updates. One of my friends was having a bitch about a letting agent that was charging a ridiculous amount for a tenant application fee. I found it quite amusing, especially the comments, so I thought I’d share.
Bless my friend. She’s not the most coherent creature you’ll ever encounter, but you get the gist of her amusing tantrum. The agent wanted £240 for an application fee. The agent justified the price by suggesting they provide the best credit checks and references in the business. I’m going to go out on a whim and call bullshit. I don’t care if their credit checks/references come with 22 carot ribbons attached around them; there’s no way £150 + VAT for references can be justified, nor a £50 + VAT fee for a credit check. They use a third party credit check company just like thousands of other agents use; and those other agents seem to manage ok by charging a more reasonable application fee.
Here’s a list of Tenant Credit Check Services For Landlords – you can get checks done for free via Discount letting, while the others charge an average of £7. If agents want to make a small profit for arranging the credit check, then fine, by all means put a cherry on top, but make it reasonable and justifiable.
I went onto the letting agent’s website (R&P Lettings) and looked under the “Tenant info” section”. This is what they said about “References”:
As a minimum we will require satisfactory references from your employer (or college), a previous or current landlord, and a credit reference report. We may also require a personal reference, and sometimes a guarantor. We may use the services of an independent referencing company to obtain and evaluate these references.
That couldn’t sound more standard to me. Nothing special about it. Calling it “the best” is false advertising. I think my Facebook friend said it best- what a “fat little twat.” Out of principle, I would simply refuse to use agents that chat rubbish and charge unfairly.
Firstly, in my opinion, the agent needs to lower their bullshit tenant application cost. Secondly (while I’m in the midst of a rage), they also need to put a sledge hammer through that ‘Krusty the clown’ website of theirs; it looks cheap, and doesn’t fit nicely with their extortionate rates. If you’re going to overcharge, at least have a nice website to show for it.
I just explained the concept of letting agents charging both landlords and tenants fees to a friend of mine while he was towering over me, enquiring what I was blogging about. After I explained, he laughed and said, “Letting agents are benefiting from a double-ended dildo” Never a truer word spoken. And I think that’s how I’m going to end this blog post. Double-ended Dildo.
UPDATE (12th Jan 2012) – I just received the following email:
In regards to your Blog in which personal abusive and threatening attacks have been made against a member of my staff, and my company R&P Lettings. I have passed this over to the Police and my solicitor, they will contact you directly. They will also be in touch with the young lady.
1) I haven’t done anything illegal – what will the police do? 2) No one has threatened anyone.
I’m assuming it’s a sick joke conjured up by a 12yr old.
Disclaimer: I'm just a simple landlord blogger; I'm not qualified to give legal or financial advice. Any information I share is my opinion based on my personal experiences as an active landlord, and should never be contrued as legal or professional advice. For more information, please read my full disclaimer.