Here is a question to the blog clinic from Jonny who is a landlord
I have a couple of houses which I let out with a local agent, I have used them for years but recently they were bought out and are now part of a recognised high street chain.
As part of the new management agreement they hold £250 on account for essential maintenance and take a 10% arrangement fee which is deducted from the rent. To my knowledge this is common practice.
About eight months ago one of my houses was re-let and in the time since the cost of numerous frivolous maintenance jobs have been deducted from the rent. These calls include -
- Tripped electrics – caused by tenants kettle
- Light bulbs keep blowing – due to tenants using cheap varieties.
- Blocked sink – caused by tenants putting grease down the plug.
- Three separate call outs for a birds nest in the roof – no action could be taken because there were chicks in the nest.
- Mould in bathroom – due to tenants switching off the extractor fan because it was too noisy.
- Strange smell coming from drain – disappeared by the time contractor had arrived.
- Smoke alarm going off – needed new battery.
These call outs have cost me over £700 and in my view are all unnecessary. I have challenged these deductions and the agents have suggested that some money could be deducted from the tenants deposit when they leave.
But who is responsible, the tenants or the agent? After all they have a duty of care and is there possibly a conflict of interest with the 10% charge?
It all depends on what the 10% charge is for. You need to take a look at your agency agreement and see what the charge covers. If the current company have bought out your former agents they will be bound by the terms of this.
Then there is also the question of your ’course of dealing’ with the former agent. If they did not charge extra for this type of thing then that would show that this sort of thing is included in the general charge. Again, the new agents are bound by this.
My feeling is that these callouts should be included, otherwise what are they charging the 10% for?
So far as charging the tenants is concerned, some of these issues are clearly down to the tenants fault.
However no charge can be made to the tenants unless this is specifically flagged up in the tenancy agreement AND that the clause is drafted in a way which would comply with the Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations 1999, Many ‘penalty clauses’ do not.
It looks as if the agents are being creative about finding extra income streams for themselves. You may want to consider moving to another firm or managing the property yourself.