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Letting agent "exclusivity"

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Hi All - looking for some advice for a friend who's getting extremely anxious trying to get into a new house share.

She viewed a place earlier this week through a letting agent, with whom she has no contract/agreement etc in place (basically walked in off the street, said "I'd like to view this place in the window" and arranged a viewing for the next day). 

After viewing she was keen to move in at 325pcm... then the agent dropped a £1600 fee bombshell. Obviously that's ludicrous and she told them no deal.

During the viewing she became friendly with the in-situ landlady, who has since asked if she's keen, and had to be told unfortunately not, due to the steep fees. Landlady was appalled and said she had no idea the agent was taking that much, and will now not be using them. She's offered my friend the room privately, with an agreement to draw up tenancy agreement, do credit checks etc much more reasonably. Obviously that could be a bit of a minefield, but my friend has another concern... She's been told by a third party that she will be breaking some kind of contract by organising this rental privately and could have the agent coming after her.

To me this sounds like nonsense. She has no agreement with the agent and owes them nothing. The deal between the landlady and agent might be a different story (maybe she'd have to pay some sort of finders fee, exit penalty from her agreement?), but that's her lookout.

If anyone has knowledge or links to resources on this kind of thing I'd really appreciate it. As much as I want to tell my friend she's fine to go ahead, nothing would surprise me in this sick little unregulated market, and I don't want her falling foul of some absurd rule.


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10 hours ago, Sunderthine said:

this sick little unregulated market

Overregulated. If the agent can secretly get your friend in to a contract which says she is not free to associate with whomever she pleases, the only ones to enforce such an evil clause would be the government and their thugs.

Nonetheless, if she hasn't signed anything, what evidence do the estate agents have? They would have to prove that they had a verbal contract and that this thing was standard.


Ed. Thinking about it, I do remember some such weird rule in Germany. They have an even more Stasi-regulated market than we do though.

Edited by Locke

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On 12/07/2018 at 22:42, Sunderthine said:

some kind of contract

Can you just have 'some kind of contract'? Surely there's either 'a' contract or no contract?!

I think it's the landlady that needs to be concerned in this instance, she should definitely have something agreed with the EA and, like it or not, bypassing them to snag a tenant probably goes against the whole purpose if it.

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If the letting agents don't know then nothing will happen.  If the landlady quietly withdraws from the contract without telling them anything then there shouldn't be a problem.

Anything else is between the landlady and the agent and would depend on what has been signed between them, which nobody other than them can know.

Unless your friend signed a contract agreeing to pay £1600 then she owes nothing to anyone but should remain quiet on the matter if there's ever a discussion with the letting agent, to avoid getting the landlady into trouble.

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I know this is late to the conversation.

But I would be interested in knowing what happened.

That said ... I wouldn't think anyone (like Countrywide) in this *sort of* situation has time to (or money) to pay lawyers:


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