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Council to 'create a buzz' with its own online letting agency

A London council has launched its own online letting agency with the aim of creating a buzz in the 'London property market'.

Bumblebee is a subsidiary of The Barnet Group, a local authority trading company owned by Barnet Council. 

The new agency says it will make all fees clear upfront, ensuring landlords and tenant are not 'hit with any shock bills'.


It offers a range of services including 360-degree photos and instant online valuations via The ValPal Network and will market its properties on Rightmove and Zoopla.

Its fees are split into three services - a lettings service (charged at 7.5% plus VAT), a management service (10% plus VAT) and a leased service (12% plus VAT).

Any surplus revenue the agency makes will be invested in delivering core services to its local community. 

The agency currently has five available rental properties listed on its website.


Council-run letting agents have come under the spotlight in the past. In 2016, a BBC investigation exposed that Haringey Council's Move51⁰ North cost well over a million pounds and at one point only had one available property to let.

Later that year, Canterbury City Council announced that it would be setting up its own agency to combat the problem of vacant properties in the area.

At its official launch yesterday, Derek Rust, director of growth and development at the Barnet Group, said: "Bumblebee’s clear, upfront fee structure sets us apart from the competition and gives landlords and tenants complete peace of mind.”

“Our new estate agent will deliver the high levels of customer service and commitment to quality that is expected."

Yesterday was also the one-year anniversary of the Manchester Area bombing. To mark the occasion, Bumblebee – which uses a bee in its branding similar to the symbol which has recognised Manchester’s productivity since the Industrial Revolution – has made a donation to the We Love Manchester Emergency Fund. 

You can see Bumblebee’s website here.

Poll: Are council-run letting agencies a good idea?


  • jeremy clarke

    Plus VAT!? Better call trading standards!

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    If they're in any way subsidised by the local authority - for example elements of the management provided by government-paid officers - it's unfair competition to private businesses. Otherwise it's fine but it's such a low-margin business that I'd be surprised if it were profitable, in which case do we want local authorities investing our council taxes on risky business ventures?

  • Joanne Payne MARLA

    I love the way they are making a point over clear and transparent fees, yet as far as I am aware it is a legal requirement for all agencies to display their fees - it isn't a USP which is the way they portray it!

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    I can see nineteen people in that picture. That is a lot for a pure letting agency. It is incredible for a start up.
    Just wait until that extra staffing results in extra pension payouts.

    Richard Trendall has said the rest.


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