Is my letting agent treating me fairly?

Is my letting agent treating me fairly?

10:09 AM, 25th February 2013, About 11 years ago 20

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Is my letting agent treating me fairlyMy partner and I have been renting a flat through a letting agents for the last 2 years. They charge us £150 to renew to lease every 6 months, the latest contract was signed in November 2012 for a further 6 months.

Shortly after we signed the new contract we were offered a larger and cheaper place with the local housing association which we have now moved into.

What I want to know is, as we are still paying the £400 a month rent until the end of the tenancy or until a new tenant takes on the existing lease, can they actually charge us the £295 finders fee that they are saying we are liable for?

There was nothing in the tenancy agreement and they’re not losing out on rent because we are stuck paying both rents until May if they don’t find anyone to move in sooner.

I also want to know whether we have any legal grounds to contest it as they did not repair or supply a broken fridge when the fridge that was there broke down, which meant we had to go out and fork out £500 for a fridge of our own. They also never came out to repair the leak in the bay window roof which ruined a lot of our possessions when we came home to find it was raining in the flat, there was also a lot of black mould Adonis the walls which effected my asthma, we used mould killer on it and reported it numerous times and nothing was ever done.

Any advise you have would be great



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Mark Alexander - Founder of Property118

17:27 PM, 25th February 2013, About 11 years ago

@ mark - it has just occurred to me that Gillian might be based in Scotland. If that is the case, the modern business business model that we have been discussing can not be applied up there. Gillian and hundreds of thousands of other tenants in Scotland have a housing charity called Shelter to thank for that. Is it any wonder why Scottish tenants are saying - please stop helping me!

Bless em, they are seeing rents soar to deal with the extra fees that agents are now having to charge to subsidise the extra costs now being charged to landlords. This all adds to the inflation figures too of course. Let's just hope Shelter don't get their way and manage to persuade the politicians in England and Wales to implement the same stupid rules! Sadly, that's what happens when charities become political animals. Sometimes they can't see the wood for the trees and end up doing more harm than good.

Mark Alexander - Founder of Property118

17:35 PM, 25th February 2013, About 11 years ago

@Anthony - I agree that renewal fees are a rip off, as for supporting what Shelter are proposing, please see my comments above. Clearly we are going to have to agree to disagree on that point for now.

Rob Crawford

10:51 AM, 26th February 2013, About 11 years ago

Hi Gillian, some agents do this but you don't have to pay if you are happy to continue under a periodic agreement. This would be the default after the fixed term expires. If the LL wants the security of a 6 month fixed term then you are in a good position to negotiate, i.e. you'll sign it if you don't have to pay.

If you have withdrawn from a fixed term AST then its reasonable to assume that if the agent is willing to occupy the property as soon as possible after your departure and also stop charging you rent once occupied that you pay the finders fee (it is in your interest, the agent would be within his rights to charge you the full six months). However, the agent should not also be charging the landlord for the same!

With regard to the fridge and damage, as you have now terminated the fixed term AST your negotiating position is limited. It would not be worth perusing it through the courts or via the Ombudsman as evidence would be difficult to table plus associated costs would probably leave you out of pocket. Also complaining now may compromise your agreement to stop paying rent once the property is reoccupied.

I hope this helps.

Eleanor White

15:01 PM, 26th February 2013, About 11 years ago

Hi Gillian. Apologies in advance - this is going to be a long post - letting agents that give the industry a bad name get under my skin!

You have clearly checked all of the documents that you have been sent/signed, but double check with the letting agent to see if they can provide any documentary evidence of where you have agreed to make this payment. If you haven't, then I can't see that they have any right to ask you to make this payment. A contract (as they should well know if they are ARLA registered) is made up of an offer, an unconditional acceptance and payment). It seems that they have made an offer and that it is your right not to accept it. However your problem is that, even if they cannot prove that you have agreed to this, if you refuse to pay, then this removes their incentive to find new tenants quickly, and get you out of paying the monthly rent until your lease expires, so you could well be in a catch 22, and you might find that by paying the £295 it at least gets you out of the remainder of the lease. Unfortunately this kind of practice is what gives letting agents a bad name. They should be happy with the £150 they have been getting for each renewal (which, by the way, is a ridiculous price for the amount of work it takes!), and take it on the chin that you are leaving. If that is what they are charging for a renewal then I can only imagine their fees to incoming tenants for referencing, contracts etc is also sky high, so they are certainly going to make their money either way! You should also just double check the termination clause on your contract. I imagine, as you have been having to renew every 6 months, that you have been signing a fixed term contract, but just check to make sure that there is no onus on you to give a months notice as well! Oh, and if you are in Scotland, then all of their fees are unlawful and you should seek a full refund of everything you have paid beyond your deposit and monthly rent (visit shelter for more info).

Antony Richards

16:58 PM, 26th February 2013, About 11 years ago

Mark, I don't agree either with what Shelter is trying to do. My point was that rip-off fees are giving its campaign some validity.

Eleanor, like you agents giving the industry a bad name irks also. I disagree with your interpretation about charging the tenants for re-letting. I believe this falls under common law and so would not necessarily be contained within the tenancy agreement, see above. I do agree that Gillian's agents are pushing their luck with the fees.

9:07 AM, 2nd March 2013, About 11 years ago

I don't live in Scotland, I live in the north east and after reading the reviews for **MODERATED - no name and shame here** I can see that we're not the only ones who have had bad experiences with them. They make false promises to the tenants when it comes to repair work that needs to be completed, and to be honest if paying £295 gets us rid of them then we will pay it, even though they never sent someone out to check the broken fridge or attempt to replace the broken fridge, or sort out the mould or the leak in the roof of deal with our complaints about the upstairs neighbour and her threatening behaviour.

Like I said we are happy to carry on paying the rent until May when the tenancy ends or until they find another tenant whichever is sooner I just wanted to know whether the £295 finders fee was something that existed.

Rob Crawford

12:49 PM, 2nd March 2013, About 11 years ago

It really depends on what was agreed on your departure. From their and a legal perspective you still have an agreement in place. They have shown good will in that they are willing to let you stop paying once the property is re let. They don't have to look for a new tenant. Paying them to find a new tenant is therefore in your interest.

With regard to the complaints, were they declared in writing in accordance with their complaints procedures? If not you are in a difficult position and I suggest you continue as arranged. If you have complied with their complaints procedure and you terminated the AST because the complaints were not resolved you are in a strong position to leave and not pay the remaining months rent or tenant find fee.

Looking at your complaints the issue with neighbours is a not an issue for the agent. This should have been reported to the police or council environment officer by your selves. I accept that the agent could facilitate this process but the authorities will not act on complaints through a third party such as the agent.

With regards to faulty appliances you would have a strong case assuming the agent is providing a fully managed service and not limited to a tenant find and rent collection service. However, to take them to court on this issue especially if you have not complied with a complaints procedure would cost you significantly more than any compensation.

Its time to move on with lessons learnt.

19:35 PM, 4th March 2013, About 11 years ago

I don't understand why you are being asked for a "finders fee" - did the agent find you the new flat, it doesn't sound like it. Maybe they want you to pay for them to find a new tenant for your old flat - if so the only reason to pay this would be if they will then release you from your obligations under the original tenancy early thus saving you money. If so they can only charge you when they have done the deal and only then if you agree to pay it (as an incentive).
I would suggest you keep your comments about the poor service and lack of repairs carried out out of this discussion with them. You will probably need this information when they refuse to return you deposit!
Do not be bullied, this type of poor service coupled with the greed being shown is unacceptable.


0:26 AM, 7th March 2013, About 11 years ago

My experience with a certain lettings agent as a landlord also came to some dispute with them, I had some tenants move in, and paid the agents setting up charge of around £250.00, then 6 months down the line, the tenants moved out, they stayed a full 6 months short hold term, so my agent then found me new tenants straight away, well and good, but then charged me again another £250.00 for setting up new tenancy! which means if they keep on finding me short stay tenants, I would end up paying almost 1 months rent in just setting up charges on top of their 10% commission!

I wasn't happy with this, and told them either find me long term tenants or simply do not charge me setting up charges twice in one year. they agreed.

Industry Observer

10:10 AM, 9th March 2013, About 11 years ago

If anyone is interested in how the LAW would be applied if this charge was challenged?

If you pay the £400 until the end of the term tyhen the agent has to charge the Landlord the new finders fee. How can they possibly charge you when you are entitled to walk without notice at the end of the fixed term?

Mark is right - if the agent finds the new tenant now then the fee is payable by you but unless they only do so in the very last month of thre renewed term then you have to be better off.

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