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Extortionate Checkout Fee from Letting Agent


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Good Afternoon,

 

I have just moved out of a property which has a £1000 Deposit secured against it. When I moved into the property just over a year ago. I was charged Agency Fees and a Tenancy Agreement fee.

 

Upon moving out I met with a member of the Letting Agent to complete the Inventory Checkout Process. This passed with flying colours and they are looking to return all of the deposit, Minus 21 Days Rent (At my request after I needed to stay at the property for an extra 3 weeks).

 

However they want to charge me £120.00 for a Check Out Fee!! :mad2:

 

I've had a look around and seem to find conflicting information on whether this charge is reasonable or not. There is such a charge detailed in the tenancy agreement. However from memory it's slightly vague, and £120 for 20 minutes of the LA's time is to me rather unreasonable. ( That or I'm in the wrong job :sad: )

 

Is there anyway I could dispute this charge? Is it enforceable? Or do I pay up like a mug? :|

 

Thanks for reading caggers :wink:

This is how I spend most of my life :ranger:

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15 - Implied term about consideration.

 

(1)Where, under a contract for the supply of a service, the consideration for the service is not determined by the contract, left to be determined in a manner agreed by the contract or determined by the course of dealing between the parties, there is an implied term that the party contracting with the supplier will pay a reasonable charge.

 

http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1982/29

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Thanks for that BankFodder.

 

Please forgive my ignorance, But is the Legislation you have quoted saying that a "Reasonable Charge" is enforceable? In such a case, what would be considered a reasonable charge?

 

I have revised the tenancy agreement and the is no amount specified for the charge. It says a charge may be made for the checkout fee. In all the years I have rented, I have never paid a checkout fee. Just Deposit, Rent & Referencing Fees.

 

So if you were in my shoes, would you dispute this charge and under what grounds?

This is how I spend most of my life :ranger:

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Thanks. I'm going to send them an e-mail and dispute the charge. I'll ask how that amount is worked out, and then depending on how they response, will offer £20.00 for the LA's time.

This is how I spend most of my life :ranger:

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I agree a check out fee should not be chargeable, as they work for the LL, so probably getting paid twice.

Anyway as it is in the contrat, a fee proportionate to their time couuld be applied which may allow for administration/travel as well as time on site.

You should also claim your deposit from the protection scheme, not the LA or LL and they liase with LL about possible deductions.

Any amount not in dispute must be paid within 14 days of you leaving.

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It's bad enough that agents charge such fees. Though if it is explicitly listed at the outset then at least you can take an informed view as to whether you are prepared to use their "services".

 

For my own interest, what, specifically, does it say in the contract?

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  • 2 weeks later...
For my own interest, what, specifically, does it say in the contract?

 

Sorry for my late reply on this. The exact wording is as follows:

 

To pay the additional cost of a check out of the Inventory and Schedule of Condition listing the condition of the Premises and the Fixtures and Fittings in the Premises at the end or earlier termination of the Tenancy

 

Based on that wording, would you agree that I may have something under the Unfair Contract Terms Act 1977? That to me seems to imply they could technically say they wanted £1,000 for the service and as it is a legally binding agreement, I would be royally :censored:

 

As it is I am turning my nose up at £120.00 I'm just hoping the LA are trying it on and will waive. I would take this to Small Claims otherwise.

 

Cheers and have a good weekend.

 

NS

This is how I spend most of my life :ranger:

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I'm not sure on that one personally.

 

The reason I requested they do this seems much more logical though. My tenancy was due to end on April 30th 2013. However my new flat was not going to be ready until Mid May. So I asked if I could stay for an extra 2 - 3 weeks whilst it was sorted. I offered to pay rent at a Daily Rate which was £23.01

 

Once I vacated the LA employee who did the checkout came and said I was very likely to receive all of the deposit back. I requested if that was the case to deduct the remaining 21 days rent from the deposit. This was so I didn't have to pay £483.21 to the Landlord, Only to receive the full deposit back a week or two later. It seemed an entirely pointless process to pay money out and receive it again. Not to mention that I would need access to those funds over the course of a 2 week period.

 

So it seemed sensible and I was happy with that arrangement. The ambiguity of the TA and check fee... Much less so!

This is how I spend most of my life :ranger:

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Can they use the deposit to cover rent?

legally NO, however if you both agree and there is no other dispute then it would be ok.

Also the check fee cannot no be deducted either. Nothing to do with deposit.

The deposit scheme should return your deposit direct to you, not via the agent.

You are lucky LL agreed to pro-rata rent as you should have be liable to a whole months rent.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hi all. Me again :)

 

I have had the below response from the Letting Agent.

 

In answer to your query, it comes under page 8 section 3.6 on your tenancy agreement, which states: to pay the cost of a check out of Inventory and schedule of condition listing the condition of the fixtures and fittings in the premises at the termination of the tenancy.

 

It does not state a price, this is dependent on the size of the property.

 

I hope this answers your query.

 

My emphasis in bold. This was not made clear during the initial agreement. Nor was I provided with a breakdown of this charge (was requested) or even a tariff relating to property size :-x

 

Would anyone think that I have something under vague charges in relation to the OfT Tenancy Agreement Guidelines; September 2005.

 

I have had a read through and I think it would come under a vague charge, unfair charge or disguised penalty. I am seriously considering challenging this and I will take this to Small Claims if necessary.

 

Like I said earlier, with such vague wording they could try and say I owe them £200 or £20 for the Check out fee. Does anyone recommend any particular legislation that I can quote at them. I'd really like that money back in my back account :|:madgrin:

 

Cheers. Nuke :)

This is how I spend most of my life :ranger:

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I'd be inclined to sarcasticly reply "The house has neither grown nor shrunk since you took it on, and therefore you have no excuse for not declaring the fee at the outset."

 

"Which" think such fees are illegal, but they are not clear why.

 

http://www.which.co.uk/news/2013/03/letting-agents-not-upfront-about-fees-says-which-312536/

 

5.12 of the OFT document on tenancy contracts sounds relevant. Basically it is saying that any term that involves a charge should be a "core term" and should be clear, transparent and prominent. "Page 8 Section 3.6" doesn't sound like it quite fits the bill.

 

http://www.oft.gov.uk/shared_oft/reports/unfair_contract_terms/oft356.pdf

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How did they get the money? scheme should not have paid it to them, if it was for check out fee? as said cannot deduct from deposit.

Suggest you write to them asking for it back, and give them 7 days to respond or you will take them to SCC, and let a judge decide what's fair!, copy to LL, and sue both LL and LA.

Only LL can deduct from deposit money, not LA.

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It may be worth contacting the deposit scheme to see whether they have a view on such things.

 

Given what Bankfodder pointed to, it may be worth doing some mystery shopping to establish what a "reasonable" fee is (not that I think you should pay anything - reasonable or not). Bradleys in Devon charge tenants around £60 for a two-bed flat IIRC.

 

Raydetinu,

 

The only deposit scheme where the scheme keeps the money is the DPS. All the other schemes are insurance backed:- landlord or agent keeps the money but pays a fee. (NB the DPS now *also* do an insurance backed scheme as an alternative I understand).

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So I understand however, the tenant should still advise the scheme that they are leaving or have just left etc. especially if on a PTS arrangement, as the scheme wont know, unless LL tells them!

This alerts the scheme to any possible dispute for agreement, and also if the deposit is not returned in the required time frame.

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The Deposit belongs to the Tenant and only the LL can make legitimate deductions, ( see shelter for these ). The LA cannot make any deductions unless LL has agreed those as referred to, and on his behalf.

Any other deductions or withholding would be theft ( or fraud )! report LA to Trading Standards or even Police!

Tenant can take LL to SCC for any non authorised or illegal deductions.

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  • 1 month later...

My son is leaving his student house shortly, which was a shared house with three other tenants and their checkout fee is £70 pp.

 

I think it's an extortionate amount, especially after the four students have paid rent for the last two years, totalling nearly £40k!

 

Money for old rope imo :mad2:

 

Very interesting to read the post here about the return of the deposit and the LL not being allowed to deduct the fee from it.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Sorry I never followed this one up. I sent the following e-mail to the Letting Agent and they waived the £120.00 Check Out Fee completely :madgrin::-)

 

Thank you for your e-mail.

 

Based on the information supplied, I am formally disputing the £120 charge. Without wishing to be rude; the property has neither grown, nor shrunk in size during the term of the tenancy. There was no reason why the exact fee could not have been detailed in the original tenancy agreement. I also feel that as you did not make me aware nor provide me with a tariff sheet showing a breakdown of these charges, that they are unenforceable.

 

I also believe that this charge contravenes the Office of Fair Trading – Guidance on unfair terms in tenancy agreements – September 2005. In particular reference to item: 5.12

 

I would ask that you remove this charge from the deductions with the deposit protection service. If you are unable to do this, I will begin formal dispute proceedings with the DPS and will take this to Small Claims Court if necessary.

 

Result!! :madgrin:

 

Thanks for everyones help on this one :D

This is how I spend most of my life :ranger:

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  • 2 years later...

Hi, as an experience lettings agency guy, I can say GOING ON WHAT YOU SAY, you need to pay up.

 

It all comes down to the fact whether it was included in the tenancy agreement, or not. You say it was. So you agreed in law.

 

There is no right or wrong - both sides can say almost anything - what counts is the tenancy agreement you agreed to.

 

I offer any free advice you may want, just make me a friend. Cheers.

 

Zanderland

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Hi, as an experience lettings agency guy, I can say GOING ON WHAT YOU SAY, you need to pay up.

 

It all comes down to the fact whether it was included in the tenancy agreement, or not. You say it was. So you agreed in law.

 

There is no right or wrong - both sides can say almost anything - what counts is the tenancy agreement you agreed to.

 

I offer any free advice you may want, just make me a friend. Cheers.

 

Zanderland

 

Hello Zanderland, welcome to CAG.

 

I would hope that you would give advice without being befriended by people needing help. :)

 

HB

Illegitimi non carborundum

 

 

 

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