are currently being warned to keep an eye out for lettings agents who are adding numerous hidden fees to their maintenance invoices, without outlining exactly what they are doing. At the moment, many agents are increasing their bills by charging a commission on maintenance work that they book with their property management service.
Essentially, this means that letting agents are charging clients a fee for maintaining the property, as well as taking commission from the maintenance companies they use. This means that the client could end up paying a lot more than they should.
It is required for agents to mention such “extra fees” in their Terms of Business. However, many letting agents will hide the information away in confusing terms in the very small print, so most landlords are completely unaware. Also, many agents have been increasing the amount of commission that they charge.
Other Extra Hidden Fees
Many other letting agents have added on a range of extra fees, including for deposit protection, gas safety checks and tenant referencing. According to a recent mystery shopping investigation, some agents were charging landlords up to six times the cost price for these basic services.
Landlords often expect to find an agent who has their best interests in mind. However, some agents are not concerned about quality and they are only concerned with signing up the contractor who will pay the very best commission. The fact that the agents are not notifying the landlords about these commissions and fees is considered to be fraudulent, as they should have a duty to act in the best interests of landlords.
How to Avoid This?
If you are a landlord and you are worried about being hit with hidden fees, there are a few things that you can do to avoid this happening to you. First of all, when you are employing an agent you should ask for a full list of fees and a detailed explanation of what each fee covers. Also, you should ask about whether or not the agent takes any fees or commissions from contractors.
You can also ask to see the original invoice from the contractor after any repair or maintenance work is done. Make sure that they provide you with a breakdown of the total cost. Asking questions is totally acceptable and necessary – you need to know what you are being charged for!