Problems with letting agents

Find out about some of the problems tenants can experience when renting through a letting agent.

Unreasonable fees

Letting agents ask you to pay certain fees and charges when you rent a home through them.

Examples of unreasonable fees and charges could include if the letting agent:

  • didn't provide details of fees in advance
  • didn’t display details of fees in their office
  • charged both you and your landlord for the same thing (known as double-charging)

It's a criminal offence if a letting agent charges you for registering for a property or to give you accommodation details.

Don't pay any fees until a letting agent has found a place for you.

You may be able to complain to a letting agent redress scheme about some disputes about charges.

If you believe a letting agent is acting illegally, you should contact the Citizens Advice consumer helpline.

They can pass on your complaint to your local trading standards office.

If you claim benefits

Check in advance if the landlord will rent to you if you need to claim housing benefit or universal credit.

Don’t risk paying letting agent fees only to be refused a tenancy because you did not tell them.

Unfair terms

Tenancy agreements must not contain any terms the law says are unfair, such as:

  • the landlord can use a 'break clause' to end the tenancy early, but you can't
  • excessive interest on unpaid rent
  • you're not allowed to have guests overnight
  • that your landlord can come in whenever they want, without giving notice
  • saying you have to fix repairs that the landlord is legally responsible for

Ask a housing adviser to look at the contract for you if you are worried it might contain unfair terms .

Use Shelter's directory to find a housing adviser

Time to check your contract

You should be given enough time to read and understand your tenancy agreement before you sign.

Get advice if you're having problems getting a copy of the agreement from your letting agent.

Energy suppliers

Some letting agents insist that you use a particular energy supplier as part of your tenancy agreement.

You probably can't switch to a different supplier if you pay your letting agent directly for your gas and electricity.

If you pay your own gas and electricity bills, you have the right to choose your own supplier .

Complain about a letting agent

If you're unhappy about hidden fees or the service a letting agent provides, you can make a complaint.

You can escalate it to a letting agent redress scheme if your complaint isn't resolved within 8 weeks.

Last updated 30 Aug 2017 | © Shelter

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