Extortionate Letting Agent Fees in the UK.
May 4, 2012 1:00 AM   Subscribe

London UK Letting Agent Fees for an incoming potential tenant: What is 'reasonable' and is there any room to bargain on these? (i.e. Fees per person for "Credit Check" and Admin Fees.)

We are looking for a new rental flat in London and we are mostly looking via Estate Agents/Letting Agents. Who all seem insistent on charging a Credit Check / Admin Fee, and sometimes before you even get the flat.

Some of the agents are requesting £150 per person for this fee. Is that typical? is that reasonable?

This theGuardian article from 2010 suggests that the credit check itself only costs about £10.

Can you feasibly push back on those fees?
posted by mary8nne to Work & Money (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I have heard of £300 letting agent fees recently, in Oxford where you might think it would be less. So £150 is not surprising (though I agree it is an awful lot). I don't think there's any room to negotiate -- they can easily find another tenant.
posted by beniamino at 1:25 AM on May 4, 2012 [1 favorite]

Yeah this is pretty normal. Welcome to renting in the UK.

Some of the agents are requesting £150 per person for this fee. Is that typical? is that reasonable?

Typical? Yes. Reasonable? This is letting agents we're talking about, they will charge you £85 to renew your contract (which involves standing up, walking to photocopier, photocopying 5 pages, walking back; total time 3 minutes, for an hourly rate of ~£1,700).
posted by EndsOfInvention at 2:32 AM on May 4, 2012

Also, many lettings agents advertise themselves to landlords has having lower fees than their competitors. Guess how they make up their profits? Clue: by gouging tennants.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 2:33 AM on May 4, 2012

Not a lot you can do, letting agent is the gatekeeper. There will also be an upfront deposit which you are unlikely to get back.
posted by epo at 6:38 AM on May 4, 2012

epo, you definitely will get the deposit back, or failing that, you'll get a county court judgement against the landlord for 4 times the value of it.

It may be worth attempting to haggle with the agent about fees, but it's not a buyer's market at the moment. Still, if you've got the luxury of time, there's no harm in being assertive, and even turning things down if the price is too high.
posted by ambrosen at 9:32 AM on May 4, 2012

Most agents will not negotiate on these fees as unreasonable as they tend to be.

The alternative is to bypass them completely, Loot is very popular for London lettings.

The Tenancy deposit protection schemes have changed as of 5th April this year. The previous law was badly written and failed in several test cases - the 3x deposit protection ended at the end of the tenancy/contract, the very time when you would need it. If you take out a new tenancy now, either through an agent or direct with the landlord, the new law will apply and your deposit should be properly protected.
posted by Lanark at 3:21 PM on May 4, 2012

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