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LettingFocus

Unbiased buy to let, property investment and letting coaching, mentoring, advice and seminars for landlords from top selling property author and media commentator.

Foxtons letting agent renewal fee case - Latest from Lawrenson of LettingFocus

Do you remember the seemingly never ending case of unfair letting agency repeat renewal fees imposed on landlords by letting agents?
Well, landlord law guru Tessa Shepperon recently sent me an update on the ongoing case.
The background to the case that the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) has against Foxtons Ltd (the letting agents) is about their refusal to agree that certain terms in their letting agency contracts with landlords are unfair under the Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations 1999.
One of these terms relates to repeat fees imposed on landlords where the initial fixed term in the original tenancy has come to an end.
Many a landlord (who never bothered to read the contract they signed with their letting agent properly) has suddenly woken up to the fact that their letting agent is trying to hit them for a further set of fees long after the initial job of finding the tenant has been completed.
One side issue in the case was whether any injunction brought against Foxtons could affect current letting agency contracts as well as future ones.
Initially, the first Judge had accepted Foxtons’ argument that any injunction about unfair terms could only apply to future contracts. Bad news for landlords!
But, we now had some good news because the Court of Appeal (bless their cotton socks) has now overturned this initial ruling, thus confirming the OFT's view that it can take enforcement action under the legislation to protect consumers in relation to existing contracts too.
Indeed, the Court of Appeal stated that the unfair terms legislation’s aim was to protect ALL consumers, never mind when the contract was signed.
LETTING AGENCY RENEWAL FEES AND LANDLORDS
What this means is that if you are a landlord with a letting agency contract with Foxtons, they should not now levy any charges under the disputed clauses on you until after the main action has been heard.
And, as you asked, the main action - i.e. on whether the terms in question are actually unfair or not under the regs – should be heard by the High Court in the week commencing 27 April.
You should be following this case if any letting agency has tried to impose renewal charges on you for finding a tenant long after the tenant’s initial term has ended.
Hundreds of thousands of landlords could be affected and letting agencies could face huge claims and loss of fuure cash flows if the landlords win this one.
We will keep you posted.
Update 10/7/9 - Foxtons has lost the case. Please go to: http://www.lettingfocus.com/2009/07/foxtons-loses-unfair-letting-renewal.html to read more.
ABOUT LETTINGFOCUS.COM and DAVID LAWRENSON
I’m David Lawrenson of LettingFocus.com - the property letting experts. Read Property Letting Articles.
I’m the author of “Successful Property Letting” which for the last 3 years has been the UK’s top selling property book - buy Landlords Book.
The new edition is for accidental and experienced landlords and is fully up to date with all the recent changes to tenancy deposit schemes, HMOs, licensing, capital gains taxes and it has new sections on Letting Agents and Company Lets
I’m an expert property writer and property speaker - and I run the well known landlords blog that you are reading now.
I contribute to newspapers and a host of property websites, write a number of columns in the press and I provide general advice on property letting and consulting to anyone looking to buy property for themselves or to let out. I can help private individuals with any aspect of buying property or buy to let.
What’s unique about lettingfocus.com is that we are independent property investment advisors because unlike most people in the buy to let and property “advice” business we are not linked to a property company, developer, agent or bridging loan financier and do not receive commissions from these sources.
We simply give one to one unbiased advice and are often asked to evaluate other property investments.
Find out about some great deals we have arranged at our Landlords Links page.
Copyright: David Lawrenson 2009. This blog is updated roughly once a week.
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Letting Agency Renewal Fees - The Lettingfocus.com view

I recently did some consulting with a chap who was not happy that his letting agent was going to charge him to renew his tenant’s contract – the original tenancy had been arranged through the agency.
My view is that all landlords must read the contract with the letting agent BEFORE they sign it. If they have signed to say they agree to being charged a renewal fee then that’s tough, I’m afraid.
I’m not an agent but on the matter of agency fees, my view is that agency letting fees are not high as long as you avoid renewal fees.
Simply extend the tenancy - doing this should not involve you or yuor agent in any work, except simply asking the tenant if that's OK with them.
In fact, a friend of mine has just asked me if I would find a tenant for him whilst he is overseas. My answer was No.

What A Letting Agent Does to Find a Tenant
Putting in adverts, doing viewings on wet evenings and weekends, checking references, doing check ins and dealing with the general public and the like is all a lot of work – and not something I would personally do for the going rate agency finding fee of around 8 to 10% plus VAT.
Sorry, but I have better things to do than that – which is why I like to keep my tenants by keeping my rent increases reasonable and my rents below the market average.
The reality is that there is not much cash in lettings – agents often use it as a loss leader to get more lucrative work selling properties.
This is why they often try to make some extra money by charging renewal fees – even though they often don’t do much at time of renewal – and why they always try to load up fees for other services like printing off copies of tenancy agreements and making charges to tenants for doing references etc.

New Tenancy Agreement
In this particular case the agent wanted to issue a new tenancy agreement.
I said that, seeing as the landlord indicated he did not want to necessarily issue a new longer term tenancy, why not just extend the existing one to make it a periodic tenancy.
One benefit to doing this would be that the landlord would not need to join a Tenancy Deposit Scheme because the original tenancy started before April 2007 – i.e. before TDS became compulsory. So, he would save on the hassle and / or cost of having to register for TDS because TDS is not compulsory for Tenancy Agreements starting before 6 April 07.
If you need more advice on where to letting agency fees ask me. I’m David Lawrenson from property investment experts http://www.lettingfocus.com/
I’m the author of the buy to let book “Successful Property Letting - How to Make Money in Buy to Let” the UK’s top selling property title.
I’m an expert on UK property investment and a well known property freelance writer and I contribute to newspapers and a host of property websites, write a property investment blog and run a property investment advice service.
I also work as a consultant helping banks, building societies, housing associations and web portals with their buy to let and property products and services.
You can read more of my landlord blog and details of my networking, advice, property seminar programme at my website http://www.lettingfocus.com/
Click here for details of my next London landlords networking meeting.
What’s unique about lettingfocus.com is that we offer independent property investment mentoring because unlike most people in the buy to let and property “advice” business we are not linked to a property company, developer, agent or bridging loan financier and do not receive commissions from any of these sources.
If a property investment is lousy – We’ll tell you straight and we will tell you all about buy to let and property investment - the good and the bad and we won’t make silly promises that you’ll become a millionaire overnight.
Copyright: David Lawrenson 2008. This blog is updated at least twice a week. Permission must be sought before using the material in the blog.

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Letting Agents - Should I Use a Letting Agent to Let my Property? Should I Pay Renewal Fees Every Time The Tenancy Is Renewed?

If you use a letting agent, their fees are not set in stone so look carefully at the rates they quote in their contract.
Be prepared to negotiate (or remove altogether) any clauses in their contract covering payments of fees that you feel are unjustified or excessive.
For example, if a fixed term assured tenancy becomes a rolling or “monthly periodic tenancy” after 6 months then the workload for the agent should be minimal.
In these circumstances, all that might happen is an exchange of emails between your tenant and your agent to say they wish to stay on - the tenancy becoming a monthly rolling or periodic one. This type of situation does not justify a hefty renewal fee.
So make sure you don’t sign a contract which gives the agent the right to charge a fee on renewal of each tenancy. If you do, you’ll be paying a fee for as long as the tenants stay.
Neither is a big fee justified for producing a tenancy agreement. These are available from the internet or from landlords associations or in my book “Successful Property Letting – How to Make Money in Buy to Let” at little or no cost.

Don't Be Mean
But don’t be mean.
Good letting agents are worth their fees and work hard and do unsocial hours on your behalf - so be prepared to pay for the work that the agency does when they do it. In many cases this will mean 7 to 10% for finding a tenant and at between 3 and 5% for managing them.
But just make sure you don’t sign up to pay renewal fees where little or no work is done by the agent.

CHECK OUT THESE PAGES AT OUR SITE LETTINGFOCUS.COM:

THE HOME PAGE OF THIS BLOG click here: Blog
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Next Property Investing Seminar and Networking Event
We have GREAT OFFERS on a range of products for landlords too; click here including landlords insurance, tenant referencing, tenancy agreements and more: Services and Products for Landlords
For general info on our SEMINARS AND CONSULTING click here: Property Seminars, Networking Evenings and Consulting
ONE TO ONE PRIVATE CONSULTING click here: Property Mentoring
CLIENT TESTIMONIALS from past customers click here: Testimonials
BUY THE BOOK click here: Buy the Book at Amazon

ABOUT US

LettingFocus.com are the experts on landlord issues and I’m David Lawrenson, the author of “Successful Property Letting” – which has been the UK’s top selling property and buy to let book for the last 3 years.

We help landlords and property investors make money in property by coaching them in ways that work, that are ethical and which involve minimal risk.
I have been a landlord and property investor myself for over 25 years.

At LettingFocus we offer independent unbiased buy to let advice for property buyers and landlords both on a one to one mentoring and coaching basis as well as through occasional group seminars.

Property syndicates and property advice in the UK is still largely unregulated and what counts as “advice” is too often more about making the promoter money than giving useful information to the investor.

With no link to property firms, developers or bridging loan providers, at LettingFocus, we aim to give unbiased independent advice on where and what type of property to buy for investment, when to buy and how to buy property at a low price.

We also show you how to manage tenants properly and in ways that take up as little of your time as possible.

See this related article from our Articles pages: http://www.lettingfocus.com/pages/myarticles_ChoosingaLettingAgency.html

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Letting Agents Check Those Letting Agencies Contracts Carefully

Lots of estate agents are now busy telling people they will do a HIP for you for free. However, as Elaine Moore points out in last Saturday’s ever informative FT, there is a big catch.
She says, “If you are selling a house where the estate agent provides you with a Hip, it belongs to them - not to you.”
So, if you later to to sell it with another agent, or take it off the market completely you’ll probably be hit with a pulling out fee.
As I have said before, you need to carefully check all clauses in any contract you sign with agents – be they letting agents or estate agents.
If I had a pound for every landlord who suddenly finds to his surprise that 6 months down the line his letting agent wants a fee because the tenant has renewed, I would be a richer man. (If the original tenancy contract is just renewed, there should be little if anything for the agent to do – and certainly nothing that justifies a 5% or higher fee.)
Back to main site; www.lettingfocus.com
The link to the full text of the FT’s article is here: http://www.ft.com/cms/s/55ae3f74-fa2f-11db-8bd0-000b5df10621.html

AT OUR WEBSITE LETTINGFOCUS.COM:

At LettingFocus we give independent advice to landlords and property investors.
We also provide consultancy to banks, property websites and public sector bodies, helping them with their buy to let and landlord facing products.

THE HOME PAGE OF THIS BLOG click here: Blog
THE HOME PAGE OF OUR MAIN SITE click here: LettingFocus Home Page
ONE TO ONE PRIVATE CONSULTANCY click here: Property Mentoring
NEXT SEMINAR AND NETWORKING EVENT for Landlords and Property Investors:
Next Property Investment Seminar and Networking Event
We have OFFERS on a range of services and products for landlords too; click here including landlords insurance, tenant referencing, tenancy agreements and more: Services and Products for Landlords
For general info on our SEMINARS AND CONSULTING including corporate consulting click here: Property Seminars, Networking Evenings and Consulting
TO READ CLIENT TESTIMONIALS – both commercial and private click here: Testimonials
BUY “SUCCESSFUL PROPERTY LETTING” click here: Buy the Book at Amazon plus anything else you fancy at Amazon.co.uk

To JOIN our Free QUARTERLY NEWSLETTER simply send an email to [email protected] - Please note we WILL NOT send spam or sell our mailing list to advertisers!

IF YOU HAVE A SITE WHY NOT LINK TO THIS BLOG OR TO OUR WEBSITE?
IF YOU SELL SERVICES TO LANDLORDS, YOU COULD BE A PARTNER ON OUR AFFILIATE PROGRAMME. PLEASE GET IN TOUCH!


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Copyright: David Lawrenson 2007.

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Letting Agency Fees - Negotiate on Them

If you use a letting agent, their fees are not set in stone so look carefully at their rates.
My advice is to look at the contract they present and be prepared to negotiate (or remove altogether) any clauses fees that you might feel are unjustified or excessive.
For example, if a fixed term assured tenancy becomes a periodic tenancy after 6 months then the workload for the agent should be minimal at the 6 month point.
In these circumstances, all that might happen is an exchange of emails between your tenant and your agent to say they wish to stay on. This type of situation would hardly justify a hefty renewal fee.
Neither is a big fee justified for producing a tenancy agreement. These are available from the internet or from landlords associations at little or no cost.
But don’t be mean.
Good letting agents are well worth their fees and will work hard and do unsocial hours on your behalf so be prepared to pay for the work that the agency does when they do it.
In many cases this will mean at least 10% for finding a tenant and at between 3 and 5% for managing them.

MORE ABOUT LETTINGFOCUS AND WHAT WE DO

LettingFocus.com is the home of landlord information.

I’m David Lawrenson, a landlord and property investor myself for over 25 years and author of “Successful Property Letting” – the UK’s top selling commercially published property book for the last 3 years.

Services to Businesses and the Public Sector

Primarily I am a consultant to banks, local authorities, social housing providers and other organisations – helping them with their landlord facing or buy to let product strategies and services.

For example, I help banks improve their buy to let mortgage lending practices and I help housing association / local authorities find private landlords (private rented access schemes, local letting agency models etc.)
I also write for property websites and am regularly quoted by the broadcast media.

Services for Private Landlords

We also find some spare time to help landlords and property investors by coaching them in how to make money in the private rented sector using ways that work, which are ethical, fair to tenants and which involve minimal risk to the investor.
We pride ourselves on giving independent unbiased buy to let advice on either a one-to-one mentoring / coaching basis or through our occasional group seminars. With no links to property firms, developers or bridging loan providers we can advise on where and what type of property to buy for investment and when to buy it. We also show you how to manage tenants properly.

AT OUR WEBSITE LETTINGFOCUS.COM:

THE HOME PAGE OF THIS BLOG click here: Blog

THE HOME PAGE OF OUR MAIN SITE click here: LettingFocus Home Page


For general info on our CONSULTING click here: Consultancy and Seminars


ONE TO ONE PRIVATE CONSULTANCY click here: Property Mentoring


NEXT SEMINAR AND NETWORKING EVENT for Landlords and Property Investors:
Next Property Investment Seminar and Networking Event

We have OFFERS on a range of services and products for landlords too; click here including landlords insurance, tenant referencing, tenancy agreements and more: Services and Products for Landlords

TO READ CLIENT TESTIMONIALS – both commercial and private click here: Testimonials

BUY “SUCCESSFUL PROPERTY LETTING” click here: Buy the Book at Amazon plus anything else you fancy at Amazon.co.uk

To JOIN our Free QUARTERLY NEWSLETTER
simply send an email to [email protected] - Please note we WILL NOT send spam or sell our mailing list to advertisers!

IF YOU HAVE A SITE WHY NOT LINK TO THIS BLOG OR TO OUR WEBSITE?

IF YOU SELL SERVICES TO LANDLORDS, YOU COULD BE A PARTNER ON OUR AFFILIATE PROGRAMME.

PLEASE GET IN TOUCH!

See our TWITTER PAGE: http://twitter.com/LettingFocus

Copyright of Blog:
David Lawrenson 2009. This blog is updated roughly once a week usually on a Monday or Tuesday.

TO VIEW RELATED POSTS select a “Category” at the bottom of this page.




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