Friday, June 21, 2013

Devon based agency happy to earn an honest wage. Should this really be a refreshing change to the norm?

Last week there was much media focus on the cost of moving house faced by tenants. This focus was targeting often unfair and unregulated administration fees charged by letting agents.

The homelessness charity ‘Shelter’ surveyed almost 60 letting agents across the UK finding the average administration fee to be £350. (This was on top of any deposit and rent in advance). These monies were also often non refundable even if the tenancy failed to proceed due to no fault of the tenant.
The industry therefore continues to be let down by agents happy to charge unfair rates for poor service, and sometimes no service at all.

Fierce competition for rental property leaves tenants with little choice but accept the agent (and their terms) that come with the property in which they wish to live. Affordable, decent places to live are in short supply, so are often snapped up very quickly. Tenants find themselves with little choice but to accept unexpected fees or an unacceptably bad service. What makes this situation even more unfair is that landlords are usually totally unaware about the fees charged by their lettings agent. Landlords are still failing to ask about what their tenant will face during the referencing process, and indeed tenancy to come. Some landlords will be losing good tenants due to unacceptable agency fees and/or service.
The long term answer will undoubtedly come with the government stepping in and forcing all agents to become part of a regulated scheme, however in the meantime, it is up to landlords to confirm with their agent the exact fee structure their tenant will face. This includes the duration of the tenancy with some agents charging up to £100 to renew a tenancy agreement, and up to £120 to "check out" the property at the end of the tenancy.

At Scott-Bates & Coles Lettings & Estates, we operate a totally transparent pricing system. Quite simply; there are no hidden or unexpected costs. Tenants only pay for the referencing process required to ensure they are suitable quality tenants for our landlords. We do not take ‘holding fees’, and we pride ourselves on providing both landlords and tenants with quality service at the best price possible. Part of our success criteria is to have happy landlords and tenants, enabling all to enjoy longer tenancies. We do not even charge to renew contracts should our fully managed landlords and tenants wish to secure their property for another 6 months. We are more than happy to renew such contracts every 6 months with no charge to landlord or tenant. We view this as part of our managed service giving all parties the peace of mind often neglected within the lettings industry, but which we view as paramount.

This approach puts us in a stronger position to negotiate the best rental returns for our landlords, helping, we feel, to restore a healthy competition to the Devon property market and providing quality property and services to all involved in our residential lettings process.