Hybrid letting and sales agency Purplebricks is ramping up its attack on high street agents with a claim that prospective tenants “are being forced to pay over £1,000 in questionable fees” before they can obtain the keys and move in.
A statement from the company, accompanying research based on mystery shopping of 284 agencies around the UK, says existing charges from traditional letting agents “have spiralled out of control”.
The mystery shopping exercise was of agents chosen at random by Crosbie Communications, a marketing company acting for Purplebricks; it found the average fee for administration and referencing was £257 per tenant for a standard rental agreement.
It claims some agents charge as much as 60 per cent of a month’s rent - possibly over £1,000 - with additional optional costs including:
- inventory fee up to £340;
- ID checks up to £9;
- additional fees for a partner or fellow lodger of up to £125;
- moving in on a Saturday, which can cost £130;
- additional charges and/or deposits for keeping pets at the property.
“Making small changes to existing contracts also mean more eye-watering charges. One agent wanted £300 to extend the tenancy while another asked for £320 to print and post a contract if a tenant did not have an email address” says Purplebricks.
When it comes to moving out of rented accommodation, the hybrid agency claims a final inventory check costs tenants up to £200. Losing a key can bring a £60 bill and forgetting the end of the energy and phone contracts costs another £50. Leaving any article behind can result in a £30 ‘clean-up’ charge, it says.
Wanting a reference for a new home from an agent is as much as £60, while paying by credit card can add another three per cent on the bill.
“The fees currently charged by agencies lack transparency and tenants are faced with an array of extra charges they simply can’t avoid if they want to rent a particular flat or house. Some of these are outrageous and bear no relationship to the actual cost of drawing up a contract or making a credit check” claims Purplebricks chief executive Michael Bruce.