Can letting agent charge T for giving a reference?

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    Can letting agent charge T for giving a reference?

    Can't believe it. LL gave me notice as he is moving his ex into house. I have always paid rent on time and kept the property in good order. The agents I am going through now have asked for a reference and he has told me he won't give the reference unless I pay him £100. The reference is literally answering questions over the phone about my tenancy. Is this normal practice? Is there anything I can do?

    #2
    It is not normal practice, but I'm not sure you can do anything about it. It stinks, I agree.

    Is there no-one else you could ask - a previous landlord or employer, for instance? You would have to explain to the agent why, of course.
    'Pause you who read this, and think for a moment of the long chain of iron or gold, of thorns or flowers, that would never have bound you, but for the formation fo the first link on one memorable day'. Charles Dickens, Great Expectations

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      #3
      The agents I am moving to are the only other agents I have used. They said that it has to come from current LL. Looks like I am going to have to grit my teeth and pay him the money. Not happy with agents either as it is them I pay my rent to!! I am concerned about the deposit now as LL is obviously trying to make money out of me? LLA use outside company to do check in and out. Will they use the inventory that I updated and returned to LLA within the required 7 days or will they use original one that they completed? Deposit is protected but I can see from other entries on this site that it is not an easy process to use DPS to get my money back.

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        #4
        Originally posted by haggard View Post
        The agents I am moving to are the only other agents I have used. They said that it has to come from current LL.
        I would try to appeal to their better nature. The idea that you can't take on one of their properties without a reference from your current landlord is a nonsense - I find that more often than not, my tenants are 'first timers' so have no landlord to obtain a ref from.

        Would the agents have turned you down flat if you hadn't been renting already? If you have other decent references (eg employer) and a good credit history it shouldn't be a deal-breaker not to have a landlord's reference.

        Personally I never ask for a fee for a reference, let alone £100 - it's very unusual and I think outrageous, and the agents should be well aware of this. Damnit, even agents don't usually charge for a reference (at least in my experience).

        Ask the agents what would have happened if he'd asked for £1000 for the reference - would they still insist on it? Point out to them that now that they know you can obtain a reference from this guy, is it really likely that he's going to give you a bad one when charging so much? And ask them how much faith they'd put in a reference anyway, from someone who's obviously motivated by obtaining the fee.

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          #5
          I agree with Eric. In fact, I would be very tempted to call their bluff and tell them that you cannot afford £100 for a reference which they don't really need anyway, because they can check your payment record themselves, for goodness' sake!

          Threaten to find another flat with a different agent who are willing to accept you on the basis of the normal credit checking proccess. Then let them stew a bit while you look elsewhere. This smells almost like blackmail, although it would be difficult to prove in court.
          'Pause you who read this, and think for a moment of the long chain of iron or gold, of thorns or flowers, that would never have bound you, but for the formation fo the first link on one memorable day'. Charles Dickens, Great Expectations

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            #6
            Landlord Reference

            A good character reference - professional person that's known you for 3 years - or a letting agent that's handled your tenancy should be perfectly acceptable substitues for the landlord reference, especially if you explain the circumstances.

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              #7
              I rang the agents tonight and told them he was charging me and they said that it wasn't normal practice. I lost my property 3 years ago so when i went with the agents that I am hoping to go to they didn't have a reference. They told me that all references are outsourced and they need a reference from current LL. I have tried to call their bluff by saying I won't be able to move out and they will have to take me to court to be evicted etc. I will wait and see if they change their mind. I have also told them that i can give them bank statements for the last 18 months showing that the rent was paid. Still no joy. I think I might lose more though because I have put a holding deposit of £200 down and paid £230 for the reference check. Aaaaargh!!! I am also going to take lots of photos of property when I move out as I think LL might try and get money from the deposit as well. I have gone around the house with inventory and there is only a broken dimmer switch and a broken power point (will replace both). I know from this forum though that the condition of the house doesn't mean LL won't try and claim extra. I know you LLs won't be happy with this, but do you think if I say while I am waiting to be evicted I won't pay the rent until I actually go will make a difference?

              Comment


                #8
                Originally posted by haggard View Post
                I rang the agents tonight and told them he was charging me and they said that it wasn't normal practice. I lost my property 3 years ago so when i went with the agents that I am hoping to go to they didn't have a reference. They told me that all references are outsourced and they need a reference from current LL. I have tried to call their bluff by saying I won't be able to move out and they will have to take me to court to be evicted etc. I will wait and see if they change their mind. I have also told them that i can give them bank statements for the last 18 months showing that the rent was paid. Still no joy. I think I might lose more though because I have put a holding deposit of £200 down and paid £230 for the reference check. Aaaaargh!!! I am also going to take lots of photos of property when I move out as I think LL might try and get money from the deposit as well. I have gone around the house with inventory and there is only a broken dimmer switch and a broken power point (will replace both). I know from this forum though that the condition of the house doesn't mean LL won't try and claim extra. I know you LLs won't be happy with this, but do you think if I say while I am waiting to be evicted I won't pay the rent until I actually go will make a difference?

                Although I can understand why you are tempted to do these things I would urge you to reconsider. Threatening to stay on until evicted is hardly going to improve your chances of finding somewhere else to live and being accepted by another LL, is it?

                Witholding rent is breach of contract too and is unlikely to make your LL see the injustice of your position - quite the opposite.

                I cannot believe you are paying £230 for a reference check - it's usually about £30-£50. Have you agreed to pay this much, even if you cannot get a LL reference? Have they already done the check or not?

                My advice would be : walk away. Claim back your holding deposit as they are clearly not going to let to you, so have no reason to hold it. You may lose the referencing fee, but you should not lose your deposit - presumably it is protected in a scheme?

                Why are you so determined to stay with this outfit and be ripped off? I would not trust them as far as I could throw them. Go elsewhere.
                'Pause you who read this, and think for a moment of the long chain of iron or gold, of thorns or flowers, that would never have bound you, but for the formation fo the first link on one memorable day'. Charles Dickens, Great Expectations

                Comment


                  #9
                  Originally posted by mind the gap View Post

                  Why are you so determined to stay with this outfit and be ripped off? I would not trust them as far as I could throw them. Go elsewhere.
                  Couldn't agree more with this. The prices you're being asked to pay are absolutely extortionate. IMO both the LL and the LA are trying to fleece you and I would certainly walk away and not give them my business.

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Originally posted by mind the gap View Post
                    I cannot believe you are paying £230 for a reference check - it's usually about £30-£50.
                    We've just moved into a rented house and had to pay the agent £325 (half a months rent). Admittedly they didn't call it reference check fees, instead they called it admin fees. That's on top of the £625 they charged the landlord.

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Agent charging to provide reference - is this common?

                      I will shortly be moving house, and my new agent have begun checking my references via Letsure. I received a phone-call today from my current agent asking me to pay £25 for the reference requested by Letsure.

                      I have lived in rented accommodation for some years, always through a letting agent, and have never come across this before. Is this usual? Shouldn't Letsure be paying for this, as they've already taken quite enough of my money?

                      Thanks,
                      Jez

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Sometimes landlords pay all fees. Sometimes tenants pay for their referencing. You have found a landlord that makes prospective tenants pay to be referenced. Nothing unusual about that.

                        Someone has to pay Letsure's fees.

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                          #13
                          ...except that, as there is no contractual relationship between T and A, A cannot compel T to pay what ought properly to be paid by L.
                          JEFFREY SHAW, solicitor [and Topic Expert], Nether Edge Law*
                          1. Public advice is believed accurate, but I accept no legal responsibility except to direct-paying private clients.
                          2. Telephone advice: see http://www.landlordzone.co.uk/forums/showthread.php?t=34638.
                          3. For paid advice about conveyancing/leaseholds/L&T, contact me* and become a private client.
                          4. *- Contact info: click on my name (blue-highlight link).

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                            #14
                            Thanks for the swift responses.

                            If it helps, I can clarify a couple of points:
                            • I have paid a referencing fee to the A of my prospective L, who tell me that the whole of this has been passed on to Letsure — I expected this, and as Poppy rightly says, someone has to pay Letsure;
                            • It is my current A, representing the L who I will soon be leaving, who are asking me to pay an additional fee to them.


                            Is it that: a) the reference is provided by my current A as a service to me, in which case it is completely reasonable for me to pay; or b) the reference is provided as a service to either my current or prospective L, my prospective A or Letsure?

                            Cheers,
                            Jez

                            Comment


                              #15
                              That's a clarification?
                              JEFFREY SHAW, solicitor [and Topic Expert], Nether Edge Law*
                              1. Public advice is believed accurate, but I accept no legal responsibility except to direct-paying private clients.
                              2. Telephone advice: see http://www.landlordzone.co.uk/forums/showthread.php?t=34638.
                              3. For paid advice about conveyancing/leaseholds/L&T, contact me* and become a private client.
                              4. *- Contact info: click on my name (blue-highlight link).

                              Comment

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