Property management firm says agents' fees are excessive
Tuesday 18th September 2012
A property management firm is coming up to its first anniversary, saying that it has a multi-million pound rent roll achieved with minimum fees charged to landlords and tenants. It also insists it is not a letting agent, but an alternative.
The Happy Tenant Company, which operates across London and within the M25 but has ambitious growth plans, revealed its philosophy to LAT after Shelter hit out earlier this month at ‘rip-off’ letting agent fees.
The charity has won a campaign to have them unequivocally outlawed in Scotland and is currently campaigning in England, initially calling for tenants’ and landlords’ evidence.
The Happy Tenant Company provides landlords with a management service for a fixed fee, frozen for two years, and charges no renewal fees and no mark-ups. On a two-bed flat, with a £500 weekly rent, it charges £3,300 for the first year for a lettings and management service.
Tenants have no registration or administration fees to pay, and there are no mark-ups on any property management services such as cleaning, inventory and maintenance issues, which are all provided to tenants at trade prices.
The firm recently conducted a mystery shopping exercise to compare its own charges for a two-bed flat with a rent of £500 per week, with those of Foxtons, Chesterton Humberts, Winkworth, Marsh & Parsons, Hamptons, Richard James & Hunters, Kay and Co, and Savills.
Over a one-year period, the Happy Tenant Company claims to offer landlords savings of £2,004 on Foxtons and Hamptons (the most expensive). Over two years, it claims to offer savings of £5,796 over Hamptons (the most expensive), and £3,300 over Kay and Co (the cheapest). Over a three-year period, it claims to offer savings of £15,756 over Winkworth and Marsh & Parsons, jointly the two most expensive.
It found renewal fees in year three of up to £3,120 – charged by both Chesterton Humberts and Hamptons.
Jonathan Monjack, CEO of the Happy Tenant Company, said: “Our management team includes landlords and tenants.
“We realised some time ago that the exorbitant fees letting agents charge today is simply not acceptable, nor is the level of service tenants say they receive.
“Our business model includes using our size to secure our landlords and tenants the best possible deals on maintenance and third party services – often exclusive to us.”
He added: “We pride ourselves on not being a letting agent. Instead, using our collective property management experience of over a century, we are challenging the monopoly that has been enjoyed by these agents for the past three decades.
“We are putting residential property management at the core of our business, providing landlords with an alternative to letting agents or self management.
“We believe paying a letting agent more than 20% of the annual rental income year after year is unjustified, while paying administration fees on top of this, which according to Shelter can be as high as 600%, is scandalous, and despite this many landlords and tenants receive a substandard service. We formed the Happy Tenant Company as a direct challenge to change this.”
Despite not calling itself an agent, the firm belongs to the National Approved Letting Scheme, Tenancy Deposit Scheme and the Property Ombudsman.
Monjack said: “The excessive fees that agents charge today is now being highlighted due to the vast number of people having no other option but to rent.
“Both landlords and tenants have been paying too much for basic management and maintenance services, and it’s time that this was changed.
“We ensure that our landlords receive a ‘hassle-free landlording service’ at a cost substantially lower than they would otherwise be paying and that our tenants get the best service and quickest response times.”
The Happy Tenant Company’s Landlord Concierge Service sets out its stall as an alternative to using a letting agent or self-management, with the concierges on call 24/7.
Landlords can use the company’s tenant procurement service to market their property, conduct viewings and carry out reference checks to find the right tenants.
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Editorial Contact Details - Rosalind Renshaw