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Part of ‘Generation Rent’? How you can avoid the unfair practices of estate agents

Posted by Matt Munns on September 4, 2017
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Many renting millennials and young adults find that they are being taken advantage of by their estate agents.  According to the campaign group Generation Rent, the average two-adult household is being hit with over £800 in lettings fees from landlords, and renters are paying £404 on average per move. On top of these charges, renters find they must pay for rental renewals, averaging £117 every six or twelve months. Add to this the news that agents also charge tenants who accidentally overpay their rent. Yet, some landlords and agents don’t charge lettings fees at all. While Generation Rent calls for a blanket ban on letting agent fees, how can renters avoid these charges now?

Negotiate (AKA: it never hurts to ask)

The idea that landlords must provide fees to cover their own charges for services to banks is still up for debate. However, as a tenant, you can negotiate with your landlord to lower or waive certain fees (like admin fees). It’s always worth haggling, and fees like the admin fee or tenants fees should be easy to see the back of. If you want to rent long-term, you can also agree before Day 1 to reduce the renewal fees for your second year.

Review your charges, and the landlord

It’s now illegal for landlords to not supply a list of charges you’ll have to pay as a tenant. Study the list and challenge it: renters have faced charges from paying two credit-check fees, renewal fees, and even viewing fees. By calling your landlord out directly on these fees it could save you hundreds of pounds.

To avoid getting scammed: check out your landlord thoroughly. Ask for ID, get proof of ownership for the property. Unfortunately, rental horror stories are out there of new renters being duped by sub-letters pretending to be the landlord.

Be choosy

One issue for renters – especially millennials – is that there are fewer and fewer rental properties to find in good locations, and that meet certain criteria for the tenant. “Beggars can’t be choosers” is phrase many renters will have used. However, if you find that the perfect property comes attached with huge fees, you probably won’t want to live there, as good as it is. Unfair fees mean that the landlord could charge you for just about anything.

Over five million households in the UK are privately renting. That means there’s more than one, wherever you’re looking. Even if you need somewhere quickly, calling experts in the know is more beneficial than simply agreeing to fees.

Seek out genuine lettings agencies

Letting Agents are not something to be afraid of – decent letting agencies provide services that you won’t be able to find elsewhere and have the means, resources, and local property knowledge to find exceptional properties without having to charge outrageous fees to potential tenants. Transparent pricing structures and close relationships to both landlords and tenants means good agencies – like Northampton’s own iLet – are there to serve you, as tenant, not to charge you.


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