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Letting Agents' " Fees"

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Long story short (upon which I'll happily elaborate, if anyone's interested, which I doubt), my wife and I are finally in a position to move out of our cramped one bedroom flat (which we rented two weeks before our wedding) into a nice three bedroom house in the same area (London SE6).

As far as a regular scan of Rightmove can tell, there's lots of suitable places (circa £900 a month) around, and they take at least a month or two to shift. When we moved into our current abode in a great hurry, we weren't in much of a position to strike a bargain, as our marriage was two weeks away and we needed to move. Now, OTOH, we are in no hurry beyond the fact that my wife has become utterley pissed off with having to live in a flat in which you can barely move because, as we're both classic hoarders, you can barely swing a cat between our many possesions.

My best friend moved recently, and got screwed over in much the same way we did three years ago- he gave notice on his old place, got mucked around on the first place he viewed, and then pretty much had to take the next one otherwise he would be homeless. The estate agent managed to up his offer from £600 to £625 a month by inventing (I'm almost certain) an offer from 'another interested party'. When he moved in, stuff like the curtains that had been there when he viewed had mysteriously vanished, leaving him having to spend a not inconsiderate amount of money just to make the place liveable. For the privilege, the estate agent he went through charged him not far short of two hundred quid- pretty much what our agent charged us three years ago for a similar level of 'service'.

This time I do have a backup. My mum now owns outright a four bed semi, and while she has my younger brother and two Eastern Europeans she met on her travels taking up the other three bedrooms, there's plenty of space for us to dump all our stuff and sleep on a camp bed in the front room. As a matter of principle, I really really don't want to pay an estate agent £180 to download a contract off the internet, perform a £20 credit check, and write a standard letter to the utility companies.

At the end of the day, it's not worth risking my marriage for a few hundred quid- but I really feel strongly that letting agents shouls make their money from landlords, not tenants. Why should I pay them for the privilege of sorting their client out with a good reliable tenant? My plan simply is to be the most affable client in the world right until they mention the £180 fee, whereapon I'll huff and puff and ask what exactly they're doing to earn it. Has anyone had success with a similar strategy? I'm thinking, especially in today's slack rental market, that they'd be brave or foolish or both to turn down a 'gilt edged' tenant like myself just because I won't play along.

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I had a similar prob with the agents we are currently renting through. They were farting around wanting to do credit checks etc, and wanting to charge us for the privelege. They also wanted the 1st 6 months rent in one go, as we didn't have contracts signed for employment (we were moving some distance, and so didn't technically have a job in the area we were moving to, although we wouldn't be moving if it hadn't have been for the job...)

I asked for their details so I could credit check them (if they were going to hold 6 months rent PLUS a deposit, didn't I have the right to do likewise?) Got a friend to look them up - as they were a partnership, they weren't listed as a company so I couldn't credit check them... Asked if I could have all the partners details etc, manager wasn't going for this, but after a bit of persistence, she understood where I was coming from. In the end they didn't bother taking the 6 months in one go, and didn't charge for the credit check (as she was fully aware I would have made similar charges for checking them out). We still wound up paying some fee or another for something else, and with hindsight etc, would have queried that charge too - but it was the house we wanted at a good rent, so went with it at the time - Doh!

I think it pays to be persistent, and if you're in a good position, and not desperate, then you can play their game a bit.

Good luck!

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When asking an agent about fees, don't forget ongoing charges as well as the fees up front. Some agents charge for renewing the tenancy and for the checkout when you leave.

So far I've had to pay 100 quid initial costs (50 quid per tenant), and 35 quid on leaving. I think the fees I've had to pay are fair, except for renewal fees where the agent wanted to charge 40 quid but I said I wouldn't want to pay so they waived it.

I ask about the fees up front and for a draft of the contract then negotiate on the whole lot at once. If the agent insists on overcharging then it's easy enough to go on to another one. If there are terms in the contract you don't like then you can ask to get them struck out. The whole thing is a package, the property, landlord, agent, fees and contract, it's more than just being swayed by the property.

Edited by Elvis-Has-Sold-The-Building

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Ongoing or renewal charges should be made known to the tenant at the time of signing a contract otherwise the LA cant enforce the charges,

True. But that doesn't stop them trying it on by asking for a fee for issuing a new contract even though the charge wasn't mentioned previously. I expect they get away with it too as many people don't know their rights. I'd rather ask them about it before signing up and use unreasonable charges as a method to weed out the bad agents before I get embroiled.

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I despise these new "credit-checks" the agents are ripping people off at for £100/person.

I rang an agent this morning to ask about the process of renting a flat through them.

They said they required £100 to perform a credit check. Why is this so expensive?, I asked, I can get you a credit report/file for between £2-15 and show it to you. Not good enough they said !!!! Then they said how can we know you will pay the rent- I said I will show you my 6 month job contract- not good enough they said!!!! What a bunch of idiots/crooks, clearly I could provide for next to nothing all the information they require for their purpose to assess whether I'm a good reliable tennant or not but they're not interested in that they're more interested in my £100 for this "service". Then I asked how long it would take from viewing and asking for flat to actual move-in: 3 weeks they said after all these "checks" were performed. I told them where to go.

I recommend flatsharing since you bypass these agencies, why bother giving them any money.

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I also worry about these credit checks, I've never missed a rent payment (since they've always been standing orders) however I've frequently forgotten to pay my credit card (as I've never got round to setting up the direct debit). So everytime an agent says they are going to do a credit check I hold my breath simply because I owed the cc company £10 at one point or other in the past few months. Its hard to know what they are actually looking for, CCJ's I guess.

I've pulled my report from experian in the past and while I have no CCJ's the missed payments are quite clearly marked! It hardly seems fair that this should impact my position on renting property, I'm not asking the Landlord for credit (in fact by my paying in advance and providing a deposit they are asking me for credit). It would be great to be able to charge the LL or LA for a credit check against them, unfortunatly they control the property and we are just tenants.

I guess this is recentish thing caused by the BTL'ers, as they need to make sure we can pay the mortgage for them, as any void or non/late payment of rent period could end up with them in a serious financial position.

I can't wait to get out of renting, it would be nice to be treated like a customer rather than a beggar.

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I'm not asking the Landlord for credit (in fact by my paying in advance and providing a deposit they are asking me for credit).

EXACTLY!

This is one of the points I tried to make to the stupid/badly trained person at the LA today.

For a 6 month term the LL is already getting 2 rent payments before you even moved in!

I don't know why some LLs bother going through agency. I was even told by one agency it would be 3 week delay between seeing flat and actually moving in because of all the checks etc. what a joke.

Oh so many people are gonna be angry when this market corrects, I tell ya

Edited by scarlets79

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  • 301 Brexit, House prices and Summer 2020

    1. 1. Including the effects Brexit, where do you think average UK house prices will be relative to now in June 2020?


      • down 5% +
      • down 2.5%
      • Even
      • up 2.5%
      • up 5%



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