Hybrid agency Purplebricks has entered the debate over the £835.38p reportedly charged by a branch of Winkworth when it changed the details of an existing tenancy.
Letting Agent Today reported earlier this week that The Guardian had accused a branch of Winkworth letting agency in south London of “grubby overcharging” for allegedly asking a new tenant joining three others on an existing tenancy to pay the fee.
The Guardian article - which started with the words “Shame on Winkworth” - claimed that it addition to the charge the Herne Hill franchise of Winkworth “wanted a total of £1,670.76 as it also formalised a tenant swap last year, despite that tenant already paying a £90 reference fee.”
Now Purplebricks has taken to Twitter to rub salt into the Winkworth wound.
Yesterday afternoon the hybrid agency tweeted: “£835.38 in fees just to change a tenant? You wouldn’t get that with Purplebricks.” The tweet then gave the agency’s 4,000-plus Twitter followers a link to the original Guardian story.
Over the Bank Holiday weekend, when the newspaper first ran the story, Winkworth gave Letting Agent Today this statement:
“We have recently been alerted to the issue concerning Herne Hill, and we will be conducting an investigation with the office to ascertain whether an error has been made. We will ensure that their fees going forward are fair and reasonable based on the work that is involved, and that any errors will be corrected. As we are a franchise, freedom is given to the offices to set their individual fees; however, we expect all of our offices to charge fees that are reasonable and consistent, but at the same time recognise the amount of administration work involved. As a brand, we support the Fair Fees Forum and do not condone fees that are above the market rate. The average admin fees across the Winkworth network are slightly less than the general market rate, and having reviewed a number of offices in the area, we have identified that this charge is not in line with other local offices’ rates for the same work”.
The agency also added that The Guardian implied that the service the tenants needed was just a name change on their contract - however, Winkworth says more work was required to check and register a new tenant.