Higher Rent in First Month of Tenancy

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    Higher Rent in First Month of Tenancy

    We are a couple looking to rent a property in Scotland. We recently viewed a flat which is advertised at £550pcm in the headline price on most websites but at the bottom of the property description it says month 1 = £700 then £550pcm thereafter. I've looked at other adverts from this letting agent and the £150 higher rent applies to all properties in month one.

    To me this is obviously a way for them to claim agent fees that they wouldn't otherwise be able to in Scotland with it being illegal. There are very few properties in our area and we really like this one. We're concerned that if we query this they may not accept our application, what other action would we be entitled to take? Could we dispute it once we're in or reduce our final month's rent by £150 and say this is because we believe fees to have been incorrectly taken in month one and complain to the local authority? The agent has great reviews otherwise. Thanks for any advice.

    #2
    If you like & want the house, pay up without complaint IIWY.

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      #3
      Is the £150 a deposit?

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        #4
        A fee for what?

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          #5
          The £700 first month's rent doesn't include any deposit (the extra £150 on top of the normal £550 monthly rent wouldn't be refunded) and the deposit to be lodged is 1 month's rent paid separately. There's no explanation for why they charge more for month one other than that's their policy. I think it's just a way of disguising an letting agent fee like companies used to do in Scotland before that was banned.

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            #6
            Yes, but a fee is paid for something (other than rent). There is some obscure rule about them not being allowed to reduce your rent, so maybe insist that it is kept at the £700 level.

            Did you know about this rental rate before you agreed to rent?

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              #7
              We haven't agreed to anything yet as we have been offered a tenancy but not signed yet. The £700 isn't on every advert for the property so we weren't aware until we saw it on another site. The property is worth £550 but not £700.

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                #8
                Well then don't sign (and tell the landlord - not the agent - why). A thing is only worth what folk are prepared to pay. It's a free world.

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                  #9
                  Unfortunately we're in a bind because there are very rarely any properties at all advertised in our area and only a couple of local letting agents so every time we see a property it's with them. We could pay the £150 but I don't really see why they should get away with charging what is basically a disguised fee built into the rent.

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                    #10
                    Well the price is what the market dictates. Don't know why they didn't just charge a slightly higher rent though. But yes you are correct -- you are being charged a higher rent as a result of the legislation. Stupid laws make people do stupid things.

                    There was a need for law to prevent theft by letting agents (for example charging fees where properties were not really available anyway, or where the tenant was clearly a "no-chance" anyway, or to multiple tenants at the same time and so on. But as always, governments tend to think they have to go beyond what is required, and just cause problems and expense for everyone.

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                      #11
                      Originally posted by sputnik4 View Post
                      Unfortunately we're in a bind because there are very rarely any properties at all advertised in our area and only a couple of local letting agents so every time we see a property it's with them. We could pay the £150 but I don't really see why they should get away with charging what is basically a disguised fee built into the rent.
                      Stick to your principles! Remain homeless!

                      (Alternatively consider that the rent for the whole term would be higher if the landlord had to pay the fee and set his rent accordingly.)

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                        #12
                        If you enter in to a rental agreement you could ask the Housing and Property chamber if this is an unfair fee added on

                        It would be interesting to see the rental amount in the contract is on a per month / year basis, if the 'extra' rent at start is not replicated each year that could cause an issue

                        In my opinion- if you like the house and the area agree and move in anyway, you can always query it later on.

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                          #13
                          Agree with bald electrician, but give Shelter Scotland a call 0808 800 4444 & see what their view is (they are the experts, free helpline..)

                          I suspect if you sign up, move in, then challenge the initial higher amount through FTT chamber you will get the extra back... (the service is free) - see
                          https://www.housingandpropertychambe...apply-tribunal

                          - since you'll have a PRT tenancy where landlord would have very limited option to evict you, you're probably safe for years as a tenant.

                          Challenging the legality before you move in will just result in tenancy not being signed.

                          Slàinte mhath!
                          I am legally unqualified: If you need to rely on advice check it with a suitable authority - eg a solicitor specialising in landlord/tenant law...

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                            #14
                            Thanks everyone

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                              #15
                              Originally posted by sputnik4 View Post
                              There are very few properties in our area and we really like this one.
                              Better snap it up quickly then!

                              Originally posted by sputnik4 View Post
                              We could pay the £150.
                              ok, Good to know it's affordable.


                              Work out the total cost of living in the property for however many months you intend to stay and decide if you can afford it or not.

                              If you like the place and can afford it, sign the tenancy.If you don't like the place or can't afford it then don't.

                              Lets say you intend to stay for 12 months. Total cost would be £700 + £550 * 11. Or £6,750 for 1 year. This works out to £562.5 a month. Is that affordable for you?

                              Originally posted by sputnik4 View Post
                              To me this is obviously a way for them to claim agent fees that they wouldn't otherwise be able to in Scotland with it being illegal.
                              If you are worried that paying the extra £150 the first month would make you an accessory to a crime, offer to pay £562.5 each month instead.

                              You're right, it looks like the landlord/agent is trying to subvert the law, but at the end of the day you say you like the property, you can afford the property, and properties like that don't come up very often. So rent it!

                              Personally I'd be more concerned to find out if this a dodgy landlord scam, or a dodgy agent scam. Maybe the landlord isn't involved with this extra 'fee'? If someone is trying to work around the tenant fees ban, maybe they're also trying some cost saving exercises on the gas safety certificate and electrical testing?

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