by Daniel Jones
Allowing a letting agent to take the strain when it comes to renting out a property might seem like the sensible solution, but landlords should always be wary of the difficulties associated with such an option.
New research by the Happy Tenant Company has found that a number of rogue letting agents are operating in the UK and, in many cases, ripping off property owners to the tune of hundreds of pounds, reports This is Money.
These companies are said to be making profits of as much as 600 per cent by charging inflated fees for basic services. For instance, simple repair jobs and other straightforward tasks were found to be overcharged by almost £500 in the mystery shop conducted by the company.
While landlords should typically be paying around £446 for the services it studied, the Happy Tenant Company revealed that they are actually being charged £935. Such a vast difference underlines how landlords can lose out if they pick the wrong letting agent.
Another area in which rogue traders were discovered to be making an unfair profit was tenant referencing. This process - which includes a basic check on whether tenants are suitable for the property and can be relied on to pay their rent - should only cost about £20, but some firms were found to be charging £120 or more before tax.
Similarly, gas safety checks should be charged at roughly £55, but the typical letting agent included in the study was asking for £150 from landlords.
Some other services, including the tenancy agreement and the drawing up of a contract between tenant and landlord, are supposed to be free of charge to the letting agent's customers. But again, hefty fees are being demanded, with these typically around £150.
It might make some landlords think twice about putting their property on the market with a letting agent and those who do should be wise when choosing which to go with.
Published on: December 4, 2013