Letting agent/landlord asking fee for providing a reference

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    Letting agent/landlord asking fee for providing a reference

    I've recently encountered a situation whereas letting agents I've been renting previously with have asked me to pay an admin fee for providing me a reference. That reference was required by my prospective letting agent after I have paid the booking deposit and my offer had been accepted. I am now aware that the practice of double charging by both past and future agents has been around for long, but here is my take on it. What do you think about this hypothetical scenario?

    Agent wants to conduct reference check. The agent is not obliged to do that under any UK regulations, but has right to do so. The agent informed tenant of associated cost of £XX for the service of referencing. The tenant has also paid booking deposit under condition that it will be returned if landlord rejects the offer but not if the tenant fails reference check or withdraws his or her offer.

    During the reference check, the referencing company sends requests to current and previous landlord/agency of the tenant. The current and previous landlord/agency demand administrative fee for providing such reference. I believe that the tenant is not responsible for paying any additional fees that may be needed to obtain the requested references. This is because the tenant has already paid to the agent a pre-agreed fixed fee for conducting reference check and any subsequent costs required to accomplish the referencing process should thus be absorbed by the agent.

    If agent decides not to absorb the arising costs associated with reference check, the agent may deem the reference check failed. As a consequence of that, the agent may the tenancy offer and claim the holding deposit. However, I believe such actions are unfair, given that the reference has not been failed due to the tenant, but due to the unwillingness of agent to commit to additional costs arisen during the referencing process. Furthermore, as neither the tenant, nor the agent are obliged to conduct the reference check, it may be concluded that the reference check is agent’s wilful initiative. As such, given that agent wilfully initiated the referencing process but was unwilling to continue it due to additional costs, it is fully the agent’s responsibility that the referencing process has not been completed. Thus, agent should return the holding deposit and provide a reasonable compensation for the tenant’s time spent on pursuing tenancy that has not been carried on due to agent’s actions.

    I would be surprised if in the small print of your reference form there wasn't something which said that you would pay the costs of obtaining a reference if your current agent made a charge. There are a few agents around our way who do charge tenants for providing a reference and there is no way that we as an agency would absorb the cost of that into what we currently charge for tenant references. It will all change of course on 1st June as tenants cannot be charged for this but of course neither can you make a letting agent give you a reference......


      It's banned from 01/06/19, so no more referencing charges or tenant fees. Hello increased rent!
      <a href="http://www.manchesterpropertygroup.co.uk/" target="_blank">Manchester letting agents</a>


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