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to wonder what letting agents actually DO?

(50 Posts)
ObsidianBlackbirdMcNight Wed 10-Jun-09 11:05:44

Moving house - expected to pay upwards of £350 in fees plus extra for a guarantor fee (as I'm on maternity leave and am main earner). Landlords want 6 weeks rent in advance as a deposit which is £1150 in this particular flat we love, which is average rent for 2 beds. Why do they want so much...because so many tenants don't pay the last month rent and landlords lose out. I've pointed out that I have 10 years of rental history and have never even paid rent late once. AIBU to think that letting agents should be able to do references that would weed out people who have done/are likely to do that? It can't be the majority of tenants surely? If not, what exactly are the 'referencing' fees for?

Theimperialcharliecat Wed 10-Jun-09 11:18:08

We have had exactly the same problem, apparently it is now widespread for estate agents to either ask for a guarantor or up to SIX MONTHS rent in advance. My DH is the main wage earner as I am currently SAHM and his business is relatively new so we had to get a guarantor despite having 20 years of unblemished rental history. Also our current estate agent wants to charge a 'checking out fee' apparently, which they won't be getting as luckily enough its not in our contract but the whole thing makes me very cross indeed!

Theimperialcharliecat Wed 10-Jun-09 11:19:36

Sorry I just went headlong into a rant there! so no you YANBU and I don't know what the referencing fees are for either

weegiemum Wed 10-Jun-09 11:20:33

As far as I am concerned - nothing.

they certainly don't organise tradesmen to fix leaky toilets - we ended up paying ourselves for a few minor but esential repairs!

we had to pay a month in advance, plus a months rent as deposit. But the service has been totally crap.

HenriettaJones Wed 10-Jun-09 11:21:53

I'm totally with you on this. As a single parent I had to pay twice as much deposit as anyone else to prove I was ok! And because I have had savings they even suggested that I pay the whole year's rent upfront!!

Now I pay £30 each time the tenancy is renewed, clearly a lot of effort must go in to photocopying the tenancy and putting it in an envelope..... hmm

LovelyTinOfSpam Wed 10-Jun-09 11:42:11

This is really weird. I let a flat and went around the agencies and they wanted 10% for a straight reference check on the tenant, about 20% for collecting rent and 30% for doing all the maintenance as well...

In the end I let to someone I knew so didn't bother with an agency...

But I am very concerned to see that they also charge the tenant for the same work?

So potentially a load of cash from the landlord and a load of cash from the tenant for one set of references?

That seems like a mega scam to me...

Theimperialcharliecat Wed 10-Jun-09 11:52:25

It really is money for old rope TOS, we wanted to move into another property, owned by the same Landlord and managed by the same estate agent. They wanted to charge us for ANOTHER reference check. Yep must be really difficult to open that filing cabinet and read all those words on our original reference!

ObsidianBlackbirdMcNight Wed 10-Jun-09 11:56:30

It's a total racket - and unregulated so any loser or crook can set up and start letting. The govt is thinking about bringing in 'guidelines' but they won't be compulsory so it will do squat. I just hope they are one of the casualties of this bloody recession too.

LovelyTinOfSpam Wed 10-Jun-09 12:05:18

I am truly shock that is appalling.

What a bunch of scumbags.

When I need to find a new tenant i will certainly be asking what they charge the tenant as well as what they charge me.

What horrible people. Sorry to hear you're all having such an expensive time, especially with things being so difficult with the economy etc at the moment.

I am still shock and have just told my DH who is looking staggered.

sb6699 Wed 10-Jun-09 12:12:02

We were charged a "contract fee" and "admin fee" as well as the deposit and reference check.

Surely printing out the standard contract from the pc is the same as admin.

ObsidianBlackbirdMcNight Wed 10-Jun-09 12:14:43

I can't believe that the government has nothing to say about it. It's a liberty I tell ya.

ABetaDad Wed 10-Jun-09 12:17:43

£350 is far far too much. I have rented houses for 25 years and that is ridiculous.

I would refuse to pay that.

ObsidianBlackbirdMcNight Wed 10-Jun-09 12:21:11

Betadad - it's standard round here. The lowest letting fee I have found is £260 and the average is £300 plus guarantor fee. This particular agency is a bit more but it's a really nice flat, and they don't charge to renew the tenancy shock which is usually another £40 - 60 after 6 months.
We have no option not to pay - we need to move.

LovelyTinOfSpam Wed 10-Jun-09 12:22:38

I picked up the short term tenancy agreement pack from smiths for about a fiver.

Just photocopy them.

They are taking liberties.

Don't know what anyone can do about it though, if there is no regulation.

i wonder how many landlords know about this? Some won't care obviously but the idea that a service is being paid for twice, for one piece of work, is disgraceful, to me anyway.

JenniPenni Wed 10-Jun-09 13:29:27

Estate Agents do very little for stupid amounts of money. The worst is Foxtons in my experience.

monkeyfacegrace Wed 10-Jun-09 13:50:53

Hey all, at the risk of being mauled Im a lettings agent (on mat leave) and can give you some insight. Unfortunatley, the fees are charged as references HAVE to be completed on EVERY property EVERY time. This is laid down by landlords insurance companies, who will not give buildings insurance unless these references have taken place. So its kind of a loophole I guess. But, it costs us about £25 for every reference put thorough, so a charge must be made to tenants.
Also, the deposit is due to the huge amount of ppl not paying last month rent, and causing damage to property (mostly non intentional). Unfortunatley the small minority has ruined it for everyone else, but (I have a portfolio too), as a home owner you must protect yourself.
But regards to £350 moving fees, argue them, they CAN be negotiated!

sb6699 Wed 10-Jun-09 14:07:27

We left our last house immaculate - in better condition that we found it but agent still tried to charge us £30 for removing a 6" plastic juice bottle from the garden. It wasnt ours (we had gardeners in the day before) although that isnt the issue.

IMO the issue is why didnt she just pick it up and put it in the bin - shes hardly going to injure herself doing that - and who exactly did they pay £30 to pick it up cos if thats the kind of money they make I want to know what line of work they're in, sounds like a good career move.

This is the same company who charged a couple £160 because they hadn't cleaned their garage door properly when they moved out. The couple insist it was cleaned but the agent didnt do the check out until a week later and it had been raining heavily.

ObsidianBlackbirdMcNight Wed 10-Jun-09 14:14:31

thanks monkey - but what about the issue of charging twice - tenant and landlord? And what is the point of references if people still get shafted with crap tenants? (my parents have let twice - and been shafted and ripped off both times - I know crap tenants are common but not the majority surely - and wouldn't a clean refernce negate the need for extra security deposit?)

claraquack Wed 10-Jun-09 14:20:23

If you are looking to let your property make sure you negotiate the best deal with the agency. It is very competitive at the moment, as so few people are buying or selling, many estate agents are relying on lettings to get them through. If the agency isn't offering what you think is reasonable, negotiate down the price or go elsewhere. And make sure you check around as they all offer quite different packages. Finally, please please read ALL the small print as you will be amazed at what extra charges suddenly appear once you have tenants.

I say all this from experience - some bitter!

monkeyfacegrace Wed 10-Jun-09 15:02:16

kat2907- the same thing isn't charged twice. We charge landlords for collecting rent, managing a property (ie arranging contractors etc) and other bits and bobs. Tenancy agreements are all diff too, an assured shorthold is the norm, but the amount of work that even changes one clause is huge, to make sure it would stand in court. It defo isnt just photocopying, it has to be done even in time order (by the minute), between a section 21 and 45 eviction for example. References tell an insurance company/agent whether or not the tenant has ever been bankrupt, had ccjs, and are on the electrol roll etc, and will confirm they are employed and for how long. Personal references from prev landlords aren't worth the paper they are written on, they aren't a legal document, are unverified, and can come from anywhere Im afraid. Im not disagreeing that its crap, but it is what it is.
Also (this is going to go down like a lead balloon), but letting agents are a business that need profit to survive.

junglist1 Wed 10-Jun-09 15:13:01

I hate them and now I'm in a bad mood. I once walked into a letting agents and was told no benefits accepted before I opened my mouth or sat down. Yes I look chavvy BUT AM NOT ON BENEFITS YOU POMPOUS PINK SHIRTED ARSE!!!!!!

monkeyfacegrace Wed 10-Jun-09 15:15:54

LOL thats a good reason to be pissed off!!
Im afraid its the good old insurance companies again that stipulate no DSS, and no insurance = no mortage.
Not ur case though, so Id have wallopped him and flounced out!!

junglist1 Wed 10-Jun-09 15:21:11

I just said what makes you assume I'm on benefits? He was so embarrased! I think it was the big hoop earrings and bomber jacket that did it!

ObsidianBlackbirdMcNight Wed 10-Jun-09 15:33:36

That's something I don't understand either TBH. I know that the LHA scheme has made it somewhat more likely that DSS tenants don't pay the rent but why should it affect the insurance? And does it stand if you pay most of the rent but get a little bit of housing benefit? Or is it if you get most/all the rent paid by HB?

ObsidianBlackbirdMcNight Wed 10-Jun-09 15:34:56

And shouldn't previous landlords/letting agents views be sought? Surely they tell much more about the tenant than whether they vote!

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