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  • FIRST POST
    • Former MSE Helen
    • By Former MSE Helen 14th Feb 13, 4:08 PM
    • 2,324Posts
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    Former MSE Helen
    MSE News: OFT wants crackdown on surprise letting charges
    • #1
    • 14th Feb 13, 4:08 PM
    MSE News: OFT wants crackdown on surprise letting charges 14th Feb 13 at 4:08 PM
    "The regulator is calling for a number of changes to be made to make sure tenants and landlords aren't ripped off..."

    Read the full story:

    OFT wants crackdown on surprise letting charges



    Click reply below to discuss. If you havenít already, join the forum to reply. If you arenít sure how it all works, read our New to Forum? Intro Guide.

Page 1
    • G_M
    • By G_M 14th Feb 13, 4:13 PM
    • 48,225 Posts
    • 59,118 Thanks
    G_M
    • #2
    • 14th Feb 13, 4:13 PM
    • #2
    • 14th Feb 13, 4:13 PM
    Excellent news - long overdue.

    And, I believe, far more useful than the Scottish system of compulsory registration of landlords. Sorry artful!
    • Naf
    • By Naf 14th Feb 13, 10:05 PM
    • 3,053 Posts
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    Naf
    • #3
    • 14th Feb 13, 10:05 PM
    • #3
    • 14th Feb 13, 10:05 PM
    It's not just charges after the fact; the charges they can levy just for the checks they do (or don't do) can be daylight robbery too. Costs them £10 plus a little in-house admin... Charge to prospective tenant is £50-100.
    Never argue with stupid people, they will drag you down to their level and then beat you with experience.
    - Mark Twain
    Arguing with idiots is like playing chess with a pigeon: no matter how good you are at chess, its just going to knock over the pieces and strut around like its victorious.
    • G_M
    • By G_M 14th Feb 13, 10:08 PM
    • 48,225 Posts
    • 59,118 Thanks
    G_M
    • #4
    • 14th Feb 13, 10:08 PM
    • #4
    • 14th Feb 13, 10:08 PM
    It's not just charges after the fact; the charges they can levy just for the checks they do (or don't do) can be daylight robbery too. Costs them £10 plus a little in-house admin... Charge to prospective tenant is £50-100.
    Originally posted by Naf
    A commonly-quoted misconception. Though I take you point about someof the mark-ups.

    But at least this is addressing transparancy, as well as surprise charges.
    • PasturesNew
    • By PasturesNew 14th Feb 13, 10:10 PM
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    PasturesNew
    • #5
    • 14th Feb 13, 10:10 PM
    • #5
    • 14th Feb 13, 10:10 PM
    It should be made law that they have to give you a printed full charges sheet at every viewing .... and have it clearly available on their website ..... and posted on their window.
    • Naf
    • By Naf 14th Feb 13, 10:22 PM
    • 3,053 Posts
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    Naf
    • #6
    • 14th Feb 13, 10:22 PM
    • #6
    • 14th Feb 13, 10:22 PM
    A commonly-quoted misconception. Though I take you point about someof the mark-ups.

    But at least this is addressing transparancy, as well as surprise charges.
    Originally posted by G_M
    Really? Because when I posed as a LL to the company the last LA used for us, that's what they quoted me (with a subscription).
    Never argue with stupid people, they will drag you down to their level and then beat you with experience.
    - Mark Twain
    Arguing with idiots is like playing chess with a pigeon: no matter how good you are at chess, its just going to knock over the pieces and strut around like its victorious.
    • G_M
    • By G_M 14th Feb 13, 11:05 PM
    • 48,225 Posts
    • 59,118 Thanks
    G_M
    • #7
    • 14th Feb 13, 11:05 PM
    • #7
    • 14th Feb 13, 11:05 PM
    Really? Because when I posed as a LL to the company the last LA used for us, that's what they quoted me (with a subscription).
    Originally posted by Naf
    I'm really hesitant to hijack this thread into a debate about specific charges, but:

    1) take a look at the prices charged by the independant Providers the letting agents use: Letsure; Paragonadvance; Homelet; etc etc (google for more). Prices start around £15 for the most basic 'check', and rise to £50-£70 for the more extensive searches and full referencing

    Agreed - we hear here of complaints/suggestions that some agents charge for full referencing but then don't do it etc etc. That is a problem (for their landlords as much as their tenants!), but it's a different problem, and does not apply to all agents.
    Last edited by G_M; 14-02-2013 at 11:07 PM.
  • Clearlier
    • #8
    • 14th Feb 13, 11:24 PM
    • #8
    • 14th Feb 13, 11:24 PM
    Absolutely needs to be done. Was extremely unimpressed by the LA who having sent us lots of paperwork and given us a schedule of charges when we agreed to take the property added an extra one when we went into the office to sign - £6 per month for registering the deposit.

    LA knew that we had already moved out of our previous properly putting our furniture in storage because the date was important to us and they had got it wrong at the viewing. Did we not tell you about this charge? Very sorry, must have been an oversight. I'm afraid there's nothing we can do about it. When I pointed out that this was no reflection of the small one off charge made by the deposit agencies I was told that I could take it or leave it.

    I would have liked to leave it as their subsequent behaviour reflected that early interaction however with 2 very young children I had to swallow it.
    • DaleN
    • By DaleN 15th Feb 13, 9:54 AM
    • 27 Posts
    • 10 Thanks
    DaleN
    • #9
    • 15th Feb 13, 9:54 AM
    Renewal
    • #9
    • 15th Feb 13, 9:54 AM
    We had a letting agent once who had no dealings at all with us after the initial contract, except to send an annual letter asking if we wanted to renew. All my dealings were directly with the landlord. On one occasion they included a "renewal" fee of £30. My contract is with my landlord (his name is on it) and I far as I am concerned I have no relationship with any letting agent and therefore have no obligation to them. If they want it they can get it from the landlord (I'm sure they are anyway) but they're not getting it from me. They can try to get the landlord to kick me out if they like, but we're good tenants - pay rent on time and don't cause him any problems (better than the previous tenants, according to neighbours) - so if he wants to go to the expense of finding new tenants and run the risk of them being worse than us, that's up to him. I suspect he won't.
    • tim123456789
    • By tim123456789 15th Feb 13, 11:25 AM
    • 1,762 Posts
    • 932 Thanks
    tim123456789
    I don't think what is proposed is enough IMHO

    I have never come across "charges introduced once contracts had been signed".

    Most agents are up front with their fees, but they still a rip-off and ought to be regulated.

    We need regulation here on quantum not information

    tim
    • newsgroup_monkey
    • By newsgroup_monkey 15th Feb 13, 11:55 AM
    • 751 Posts
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    newsgroup_monkey
    I've written to the OFT saying exactly this. I have been in contact with my MP and received a written response from the minister for housing about this as well.

    Reading between the lines, they don't want to resort to the measures in Scotland (well, it's not very Conservative after all). They also don't really see the problem.

    It's one thing having charges, but they should be putting pressure on ARLA or whoever to standardize them so that we all know where we stand.
    The smaller the monkey the more it looks like it would kill you at the first given opportunity.

    • bribri
    • By bribri 15th Feb 13, 12:40 PM
    • 254 Posts
    • 77 Thanks
    bribri
    My cousin has been asked this year by the agents to pay £90 to renew the contract. This is after renewing the contract every year for 3 years without any request for money.

    As the contract is with the landlord, he's sees no reason to pay.
    • Pincher
    • By Pincher 15th Feb 13, 1:13 PM
    • 6,516 Posts
    • 2,491 Thanks
    Pincher
    What I need is an independent third party in case of dispute.

    It is possible to find decent tenants yourself, because the internet is pretty mature now. The commission level is ridiculous for what they do, especially in subsequent years.
    • newsgroup_monkey
    • By newsgroup_monkey 15th Feb 13, 3:40 PM
    • 751 Posts
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    newsgroup_monkey
    well that's exactly it Pincher. Some agencies charge as much as £550 just to "introduce" a tenant and do credit checks, contracts etc. That's probably about £450 more than it costs them.

    My old LA had the tenacity to make everything +VAT which is in fact against the Government rules of VAT.

    They charge £100 to print out contracts every 6 months too (which are identical to the contract I've just paid £25 from my new LA). They also refuse to allow SPT.
    The smaller the monkey the more it looks like it would kill you at the first given opportunity.

    • Pincher
    • By Pincher 15th Feb 13, 4:11 PM
    • 6,516 Posts
    • 2,491 Thanks
    Pincher
    well that's exactly it Pincher. Some agencies charge as much as £550 just to "introduce" a tenant and do credit checks, contracts etc. That's probably about £450 more than it costs them..
    Originally posted by newsgroup_monkey
    I got an unsigned letter from an unheard of Bank in some unknown town in Israel, confirming the prospective tenant has an account with them. The letting agent gave me a form to sign, saying that I am "satisfied" with the reference, absolving their responsibility.

    Why don't they just get the tenant to sneeze into a tissue, and call that a reference.
    • tim123456789
    • By tim123456789 16th Feb 13, 10:01 AM
    • 1,762 Posts
    • 932 Thanks
    tim123456789
    What I need is an independent third party in case of dispute.

    It is possible to find decent tenants yourself, because the internet is pretty mature now. The commission level is ridiculous for what they do, especially in subsequent years.
    Originally posted by Pincher
    But it's not just what they do, it what that have to spend to put themselves in a position to do it.

    High street rents/rates are not cheap and this has to be paid for.

    My agent has tried to save money by moving to an out of the way location, and guees what - he gets significantly less clients because no-one walks past!

    tim
    • Chrysalis
    • By Chrysalis 18th Feb 13, 1:14 PM
    • 2,298 Posts
    • 1,095 Thanks
    Chrysalis
    Seems toothless.

    So many regulations now days work on the promise that once fees are laid out all upfront everything is ok.

    The best way to deal with the problem is remove letting agents from the picture, have landords deal with tenants directly.
    • newsgroup_monkey
    • By newsgroup_monkey 18th Feb 13, 2:09 PM
    • 751 Posts
    • 931 Thanks
    newsgroup_monkey
    But it's not just what they do, it what that have to spend to put themselves in a position to do it.

    High street rents/rates are not cheap and this has to be paid for.

    My agent has tried to save money by moving to an out of the way location, and guees what - he gets significantly less clients because no-one walks past!

    tim
    Originally posted by tim123456789
    All the new EAs and LAs round my way are out of town. Most people use Right Move for searches so it's hardly worth the premium.

    One of the EAs in our area is doing very well despite only having a smart car and a home office. His only marketing is done on Right Move, Zoopla and the local rag. He's been doing it this way for at least 12 years.
    The smaller the monkey the more it looks like it would kill you at the first given opportunity.

    • FireWyrm
    • By FireWyrm 18th Feb 13, 2:21 PM
    • 6,422 Posts
    • 12,150 Thanks
    FireWyrm
    Seems toothless.

    So many regulations now days work on the promise that once fees are laid out all upfront everything is ok.

    The best way to deal with the problem is remove letting agents from the picture, have landords deal with tenants directly.
    Originally posted by Chrysalis
    ....and what happens when the tenant badgers the LL with trivial complaints?

    Broadly speaking though, this is looooonnngggg overdue. I would also go so far as to make it mandory that LAs have to explain the complaints proceedure (I had no idea about the DPS dispute process until I came on this forum and was bilked for £600 of unnecessary 'deductions'). Most people dont even know this deposit schema exists and the LAs stay awfully quiet about it. As some on here know, I was actively threatened by my last LA when I stood up for myself and said I would dispute their ridiculous deductions. This sort of criminal behaviour should be stamped on, thoroughly and there should be some sort of oversight service to regulate LA behaviour in these types of cases.
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    • Chrysalis
    • By Chrysalis 18th Feb 13, 4:23 PM
    • 2,298 Posts
    • 1,095 Thanks
    Chrysalis
    ....and what happens when the tenant badgers the LL with trivial complaints?
    Originally posted by FireWyrm
    Then dont be a landlord, it shouldnt be the case you rent out the property and have no obligation to deal with issues.

    Also what may seem trivial to the landlord may not be for the tenant.

    My landlord runs his own agency, its a letting agency with a difference. There is no credit checks, and no fees. He has staff and an office, so he somehow keeps it going without fees. I remember the day I walked in to sign my first tenancy agreement with him, he had just setup the office and had no staff, had to wait for him to turn up in his sports car from the golf course to give me the keys .

    Now of course he has progressed and doesnt use any 3rd party letting agents. I have his mobile number even tho he has staff but not sure if new tenants get the number, but with that aside he has found a way round all the red tape attacked to LA's.

    For a start in his own words, credit checks are pointless, the tenant isnt even getting credit (they pay up front) and its just a little earner for LA's so they can charge for it.
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