Here is a question to the blog clinic from Alistair who is a landlord
My letting agent – on a fully managed service – has introduced an ‘admin charge’ of £24 for ‘processing a Gas Safety Certificate not arranged by ourselves’.
‘Ourselves engineers’ charge double what the engineer I have used for years charges and they have also missed major issues on the 2 occasions they have done work for me.
This feels a bit like the banks charging you to write a letter to say you’re overdrawn.
Is this common? Or just greed?
You first need to look to your agency agreement and see what it says about charges.
Your agent is only entitled to make the charges authorised by this agreement – they are not entitled to introduce separate charges just because they feel like it.
Also, I would have thought that a fully managed service should cover this work anyway.
Beware hidden commission charges
The fact that the charges for the recommended agent is higher makes me wonder if the agents are taking commission from them (and if this charge for using other engineers is an attempt to make up their lost commission).
Taking commission from sub contractors is (unless specifically authorised by your agency agreement) a breach of their duties to you under agency law and solicitors Leigh Day are bringing a claim against London agents Foxtons on this very issue.
You can find out more about this in our video here.
Gas Safe issues
I am also concerned that the engineers, as well as being more expensive, also seem to be incompetent.
For gas safety inspections this is a serious matter. You may want to check to make sure that the engineers are registered with the Gas Safe Register.
Even if they are, the Gas Safe Register will want to know if their engineers are not providing a proper service.
Making a complaint
You should also draw your agent’s attention to the deficiencies of their chosen engineers. Perhaps making the point that as they are more expensive than your usual engineers, you would expect a superior or at least a comparable service, not an inferior one.
You could also point out that using overpriced and incompetent gas safe engineers also reflects on their own service and could be deemed to be a breach of their duty to provide a service with reasonable care and skill.
Putting them in breach of contract and vulnerable to a claim for compensation.
If your agents do not respond adequately, note that you now have the option of making a complaint to their Redress Scheme.