Saturday, September 11, 2010

Shelter – Five scams to avoid

Nearly one million people fall victim of landlord scams

Almost one million people have fallen victim to landlord and private tenancy scams in the last three years, research revealed today. Of the 2,234 UK adults surveyed by YouGov, 2% admitted they had been scammed. This equates to around one million people in Great Britain, according to housing charity Shelter. Meanwhile, a fifth of tenants and one in four landlords have never heard of the Tenancy Deposit Protection Scheme which was introduced by Government in April 2007 to ensure money paid by tenants is kept safe.

Posted by jack c @ 05:42 PM (2133 views)
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10 thoughts on “Shelter – Five scams to avoid

  • One of the biggest scams of all is the letting agent’s ‘tenancy renewal fee’, which is incurred on the anniversary of the original agreement and pays for a night out at the letting agents office.

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  • … except paul that it can quite easily be challenged – see oft v foxtons…

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  • Let’s not forget about the compulsory electrical and gas safety checks. If these checks are periodically neglected the landlord has

    commited a ‘criminal’ breach.

    They may need to be reminded of this fact in present time, or if they start to get shirty about more issues concerned with ripping the

    tenant off.

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  • You’ve missed the point techieman – the Foxton’s vs OFT ruling was to challenge the fee being levied against the landlord. This is about the fee levied on the tenant for ‘renewing’ the tenancy agreement.

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  • actually i have read the whole judgement. and yes you are right — in a way — but if you do read the whole judgement you will see that renewal fees themselves in general are being attacked, because there is no consideration given the other way. my understanding was that renewal fees could not be levied without clear agreement to that within the contract, and that there was no agreement.

    the letting agents were told they could go back and look at this and maybe come up with some language that wouldnt be challenged. however whatever they were to do the judge recognised that the renewal fee should bear no resemblance to the initial fee, since the initial fee would cover the marketing etc, and if the tennant renewed there was no additional costs.

    i have used this argument not to pay any renewal fee – maybe my LL has paid it, i dont know – thats up to them but i can tell you that they have never chased me for it, after i told them if they want it they should take me to court and i would use foxtons v oft as a precedent.

    maybe they didnt realise it was just for the landlord though – so maybe you are right 🙂

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  • in general though the gene pool consists of a whole range of people – from nice to a5sewipes. im not really sure that there is more of a concentration in the LL arena than the tennant. sure we have all heard of tenants not paying (that film with michael keaton springs to mind) and getting away with it, which to me is just as unfair as a LL ripping you off – once you are in there.

    however the old western union trick is not really a LL / Tenant issue – thats just a con man issue, as is letting out something that isnt yours!

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  • re my 4 – in any case just get the LL to agree to the agreement lapsing and becoming a statutory periodic tenancy. therefore there can be no renewal fee as the tenancy agreement is not renewed! [although the fee doesnt apply – the LL might still want to pay some sort of fee to stay in the good books of the agent – i wouldnt but i wouldnt be a ll either!]

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  • There’s an investigation in the Sunday Times today on very dodgy landlords, and all their fees and theft – especially of students and immigrants. If I can find a link, I’ll post it. Terrible stuff, and all done in cash so there’s no tax and no paper trail.

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  • Captain_mandrake says:

    I think the problems come in because the agencies aren’t satisfied with a percentage of the rent and they look for ways to charge on the tenant side as well.

    The obvious one is the admin fee – I’m being quoted circa £150 at the moment. I’m sure this is relatively low as I live in Devon but what do they actually do? Photocopy a standard tenancy agreement and get the admin person to type your details into a web page for the referencing company. What annoys me is you can google for the referencing company and see what they charge – its not £150!

    You know they will be looking for ways to get their hands on the deposit as well- deposit scheme or not. As someone said on a TDS thread here the other day it’s an industry that is bristling with sharp practices.

    I challenged one of them on their tenant charges the other day and the best reason she could offer was “everyone charges it”. That’s what it comes down to – a number of agencies tie up a high percentage of the rental properties in a town and then charge roughly the same fees.

    Most of them just charge what everyone else does and don’t seem to want to compete or know why they charge for something. Its like one guy who actually knows the business charges some stuff and the other set up and copy him. I asked why I was being credit checked as I wasn’t having credit (more out of annoyance than anything else) – you just get a blank look or more sales talk.

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  • Consumer protection laws are seldom enforced against landlords, trading standards just bat complaints off too the housing advice bit of the council as a routine.

    But the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 do apply to landlords, so if your landlord is misleading or bullying you, make a written complaint quoting the regulations and they will have a statutory duty to look at it.

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