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Rental Saga Continues In Cambridge

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I thought I'd post this as a new topic as it contains useful info about the OFT.

So, I've paid the 'application fee' of £150 (i.e. fee letting agents randomly impose for doing nothing), but the letting agents in question have not done anything to allay my misgivings.

In THEIR OWN application form they state that if the tenancy is going to start later than 10 days after the application fee is paid (which is our case) then there needs to be written agreement, which they did not give until I asked, and then it was the briefest least satisfactory email. The man that I originally dealt with now will not return my calls. I am beginning to wonder if they'd fix anything if it got broken - probably not. I get the impression they feel they're doing us a HUGE favour to take our over £1k deposit, large monthly payments and admin fee. Why on earth do letting agents do this (some do, some don't)? It's like we're guests at the property so we're expected to behave like model citizens, or army recruits, cleaning the toilet every day for a minimum of an hour with a toothbrush.

They have given me their standard tenancy agreement to read. As per usual, it has lots of random things that make enjoying life impossible like 'no burning of candles ever in the property'. We are professional married tenants, we're not teenagers, we're capable of making sure a candle isn't left unattended and doesn't cause a fire if we decide to light one when having a romantic dinner.

So I called the OFT - who were incredibly helpful. They took note of my concerns and may raise some of them with ARLA - these letting agents are supposed to be part of ARLA. Some of the terms in the tenancy agreement are the examples that are used in the OFTs guidance on unfair terms - e.g. one about professional cleaning at the end of the tenancy.

They originally suggested asking the letting agent about unfair terms to try and insert more reasonable terms such as 'not leave any candles unsupervised' - which I did very reasonably - I have not received a reply. This was when the man I'd be dealing with walked off and has never spoken to me since.

The OFT basically told me that trading standards can't help me until I've signed the contract, but that unfair terms are not enforceable under the law (they said this was sort of the point since they're aware that people are under a lot of pressure often to sign a lease i.e. have a roof over their head).

If anyone has any advice on negotiating tactics to try and make the contract more reasonable / in line with OFT guidance then please let me know.

I've got a reference number from OFT so can go back to them if I need to. I would recommend phoning them if you're in a similar situation. Apart from anything else it's nice to talk to someone who is a normal human being with normal human expectations.

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I thought I'd post this as a new topic as it contains useful info about the OFT.

So, I've paid the 'application fee' of £150 (i.e. fee letting agents randomly impose for doing nothing), but the letting agents in question have not done anything to allay my misgivings.

In THEIR OWN application form they state that if the tenancy is going to start later than 10 days after the application fee is paid (which is our case) then there needs to be written agreement, which they did not give until I asked, and then it was the briefest least satisfactory email. The man that I originally dealt with now will not return my calls. I am beginning to wonder if they'd fix anything if it got broken - probably not. I get the impression they feel they're doing us a HUGE favour to take our over £1k deposit, large monthly payments and admin fee. Why on earth do letting agents do this (some do, some don't)? It's like we're guests at the property so we're expected to behave like model citizens, or army recruits, cleaning the toilet every day for a minimum of an hour with a toothbrush.

They have given me their standard tenancy agreement to read. As per usual, it has lots of random things that make enjoying life impossible like 'no burning of candles ever in the property'. We are professional married tenants, we're not teenagers, we're capable of making sure a candle isn't left unattended and doesn't cause a fire if we decide to light one when having a romantic dinner.

So I called the OFT - who were incredibly helpful. They took note of my concerns and may raise some of them with ARLA - these letting agents are supposed to be part of ARLA. Some of the terms in the tenancy agreement are the examples that are used in the OFTs guidance on unfair terms - e.g. one about professional cleaning at the end of the tenancy.

They originally suggested asking the letting agent about unfair terms to try and insert more reasonable terms such as 'not leave any candles unsupervised' - which I did very reasonably - I have not received a reply. This was when the man I'd be dealing with walked off and has never spoken to me since.

The OFT basically told me that trading standards can't help me until I've signed the contract, but that unfair terms are not enforceable under the law (they said this was sort of the point since they're aware that people are under a lot of pressure often to sign a lease i.e. have a roof over their head).

If anyone has any advice on negotiating tactics to try and make the contract more reasonable / in line with OFT guidance then please let me know.

I've got a reference number from OFT so can go back to them if I need to. I would recommend phoning them if you're in a similar situation. Apart from anything else it's nice to talk to someone who is a normal human being with normal human expectations.

Hi,

I've read both threads about your new place.

I must say I'd be tempted to pull out. These agents sound like a nightmare. However, I'm not in your shoes, and you say that you really want the place. Only you can judge whether you want the place enough to put up with agents who quite probably won't fix anything without endless trouble. This could be especially difficult if the landlord is overseas - the agent may be your only point of contact.

If you do want to find out who the landlord is and their address it's easy enough to do. The Land Registry charges peanuts (£2 as I recall) for a basic search which will tell you who owns the place. However, if they bought it as their home then the address registered for them will most likely be the house itself, in which case you might need to do some more research (and hope that their name is relatively unusual) to find where they are now. If you go through and rent the place it's a requirement of the legislation (the Landlord and Tenant Act I think) that you be given the landlord's name and address once you're signed up for the tenancy.

As for the unfair terms, realistically with that type of agency there is no hope whatsoever of negotiating. They sound like the usual morons who pull something off the laser printer, tell you to sign it, get huffy if you even expect to have time to read it, and then charge you for the privilege. If you do want to carry on dealing with them just sign it and ignore the unfair terms. They are unenforceable, no court would give the landlord any remedy for breach of them.

I haven't rented through agents for years. I found they were almost always incompetent and dishonest. In particular I refuse to pay them any fees. They work for the landlord, and the landlord pays them a hefty commission, I'm not certainly not paying them for messing things up. I deal with landlords directly now, which I find much better. Having a direct relationship makes dealings easier. If I think the landlord seems like a shit when I meet him then I don't go any further.

Hope that's some help,

Goat

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PS Are they using the new deposit protection scheme? Otherwise there's no way agents like that would give you back your deposit at the end without a hell of a fight. Even so make sure you get photos of everything on the day you move in.

And check to see what fees they're planning to fleece you for during your tenancy. What does it say in the paperwork? If it's just a six-month tenancy they'll probably be expecting £150 every six months for pulling the same standard tenancy agreement off their laser printer.

Also, if you're not happy with them write to the landlord explaining why. I think a lot of landlords are oblivious to the way agents treat tenants and prospective tenants. Landlords might have much shorter voids if agents were less shitty. The agents would rather have a month-long void than give up their six-monthly £150 "admin" charge because the charges outweigh the lost month's commission on the rent. If I were a landlord paying them 15% I would not be happy with that state of affairs.

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PS Are they using the new deposit protection scheme? Otherwise there's no way agents like that would give you back your deposit at the end without a hell of a fight. Even so make sure you get photos of everything on the day you move in.

And check to see what fees they're planning to fleece you for during your tenancy. What does it say in the paperwork? If it's just a six-month tenancy they'll probably be expecting £150 every six months for pulling the same standard tenancy agreement off their laser printer.

Also, if you're not happy with them write to the landlord explaining why. I think a lot of landlords are oblivious to the way agents treat tenants and prospective tenants. Landlords might have much shorter voids if agents were less shitty. The agents would rather have a month-long void than give up their six-monthly £150 "admin" charge because the charges outweigh the lost month's commission on the rent. If I were a landlord paying them 15% I would not be happy with that state of affairs.

Thanks for the thoughts.

They are using the new TDS, although I think they're holding the money - but this should offer at least some protection. They are also members of ARLA, so I could always complain to them too.

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Thanks for the thoughts.

They are using the new TDS, although I think they're holding the money - but this should offer at least some protection. They are also members of ARLA, so I could always complain to them too.

I would be prepared to hazzard a guess that a complaint to ARLA will be a waste of printer toner. ARLA is an agents' pressure group. The chances of them sticking up for tenants against agents is very slender.

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I would be prepared to hazzard a guess that a complaint to ARLA will be a waste of printer toner. ARLA is an agents' pressure group. The chances of them sticking up for tenants against agents is very slender.

Amazing isn't it given this government's penchant for interfering with everything that they let the housing market be regulated by the agents and brokers who provide the "services". Surely now is the time for legal regulations on training, competency etc, for estate and letting agents?

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