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There has been much talk of letting agent fees and estate agent fees for tenants being banned. However, this was just a plan, ahead of a consultation. At present letting agents can charge fees to tenants. These letting agent fees can generally be classed into 2 categories.
This is an amount that is paid for the letting agent to take the property off the market. This is a reasonable method for the landlord or agent to work out if a tenant is serious about getting a tenancy for a rental property. This tends to be refundable if the landlord or agent does not proceed with the tenancy, but is not refundable if a potential tenant changes their mind. It is generally wise to get things that have been discussed, such as the rent amount, deposit amount, any items of furniture that need removing/putting in and move-in date put in writing before sending over the holding deposit.
It is currently a grey area as to whether a landlord or agent can keep a holding deposit if referencing checks are failed. A Landlord or Letting Agent certainly cannot keep a holding deposit if you fail reference checks if they have not mentioned they will do this in writing before the holding deposit is paid to them.
These are fees charged by the letting agent, which they keep for themselves, to cover their administration costs. Unfortunately, these are often very high. They can often be negotiated, or you may be able to get a reduction in rent if you agree to pay the letting agent admin fees.
If you believe you have fees paid to an agent that are being unlawfully held, you can make a complaint and raise a claim with the Lettings Ombudsman that your letting agency is signed up with.
Justice For Tenants can also speak directly to the letting agency on your behalf to try and get your money back. We may also go through the Letting Ombudsman or Property Redress Scheme that your letting agent is registered with to recover the letting agent fees you have paid.