Finding a new home is always stressful, but it can be even more so if you’re a renter. When you don’t own your home, your life can feel unstable. When your tenancy comes to an end in your current home, it can feel like a race against time to find somewhere new. And it’s not always easy trying to find a suitable place to live, especially if you have children or pets or need somewhere accessible. There can be lots of costs involved with renting too, and lettings agent fees are one of the things that hit people hardest. They can amount to a lot of money, with charges for anything from credit checks to “checking out” fees when it’s time for you to go. Have a look at some of these tips to make sure you don’t get stung too badly.
Know the Law
Before you start looking for your new home, you should know the laws about lettings fees. One important thing to remember is that it’s illegal for estate agents to charge the tenants any fees in Scotland. If they still try to charge you, you can write to them or go through the courts to get your money back. In England and Wales, a lettings agent or private landlord must list their fees clearly. If they aren’t, you can contact the Advertising Standards Agency (ASA), who can get them to change their ads. Remember that in England, it’s illegal for agents to charge you just to register or view their listings.
Be Aware of Fees Charged
Estate agents are required to list the prices they charge clearly when they advertise a property. So you should make sure you take notice of the information they give you. Even if they have listed their fees on the advert you saw or on their website, you can check by asking one of their agents. It’s best to be certain that you know what you have to pay, so there are no surprises later. Remember that there could be expenses that appear later when you’re negotiating the contract, such as a fee for having pets.
Try to Negotiate Fees
There might be some cases when you can attempt to negotiate the prices, especially with a private landlord. Much of the time, they charge much more than they need to for certain processes, such as credit checks. You might notice that private landlords charge £25-£50 for a credit check, for example while estate agents charge £100 or more. It’s worth talking to the estate agent or asking them to talk to the landlord to see if they can reduce certain fees.
Try Shopping Around
There are lots of things to think about before fees, such as location and number of bedrooms. But you should keep them in mind when looking for a property. Of course, if you’re struggling to find somewhere suitable, you can’t turn down a home because the fees are high. But it’s a good idea to make a list of lettings agents with reasonable costs and avoid the others.
Paying lettings fees on top of your deposit and first month’s rent can be painful, but unfortunately it’s necessary. You can try to make it more pleasant by knowing the law and being aware of what you need to pay.