The following is a true story of what happened to one of our members this week when they rented a two bed flat through a Lettings Agent.
Mr & Mrs K had to leave their old accommodation due to damp and mould on their bedroom walls which was making their young baby sick. They gave notice to their existing Agents six weeks before the end of their six month tenancy thinking that it would be easy to find other accommodation before they had to leave their existing flat at end July. They were wrong to make that assumption.
Because they could not find any “private landlords” to contact they were forced to speak to all the Letting Agents handling property in the area they needed to move to. The Agents took their details but when one week had passed by without any return calls to view property Mr & Mrs K had to contact all the agents again and then found out that over half the agents they had originally spoken to had forgotten to register them and therefore done nothing about their case. The remaining agents, who had registered them properly, had not contacted them simply because they had no two bed properties to show them.
During the first week of July, with only four weeks left on their existing tenancy agreement, they began to receive two or three calls from agents who had two bed flats to view but when Mr & Mrs K went to see these properties they found that either the second bedroom was part of the lounge/kitchen, or the property was filthy, or the price was above their budget or the area was not good for children. By mid- July they had still found nothing, causing Mrs K to panic and then loose sleep.
On the 16th July an agent, who we will call “Lurch”, contacted Mrs K and told her of a property they had which she might like to see and, as Mr K was at work, Mrs K went to view the property and because it was clean, had two proper bedrooms, was in the correct location and the rent was £675, which was under their budget of £700, she told the agent straight away that she and her husband would take the property. At this point “LURCH” asked her to visit him at the agency offices so that he could discuss what needed to happen before they could sign their contract.
“LURCH” was fully aware that Mr & Mrs K had only two weeks left of their existing tenancy and had very little chance to find anything else to move into and this gave “LURCH” the opportunity to make as much money as he could from Mr & Mrs K. Here is a list of the charges made by “LURCH” before Mr & Mrs K could sign the contract and feel safe.
- £330 each to cover agency fees. That charge is for every person over the age of 18 living at the property. Mr & Mrs K therefore had to pay £660
- £675 for the first month’s rent
- £675 for one month’s deposit
- £120 “reservation fee” which LURCH charged to reserve the property for Mr & Mrs K
- LURCH insisted that Mr & Mrs K took Contents Insurance for the new flat and that they should take it from “a company his agency worked closely with”. Cost of this insurance £10 per month.
- £100 would be deducted from the deposit at the end of the contract to pay for “checking out documentation and time”.
- If Mr & Mrs K needed a reference at the end of the contract then this would cost a further £30. These days it is very difficult to secure new accommodation without a good reference from the existing landlord and “LURCH” knew this naturally.
The total sum of money that Mr & Mrs K were now agreeing to pay was £2,130.00 (at the end of the tenancy they would get back £675 less £100 for checking out and £30 for the reference).
“LURCH” was very happy because not only had he just taken £2,130 from Mr & Mrs K but he had also taken £480 (inc VAT) from the owner of the property in order to find him a tenant.
Now dear readers answer me this please. Is a Letting Agent really a Vulture in disguise.