(article researched 2016)

Renting a home through a letting agent in Lewes?  You will pay through the nose for agent’s fees.

Worse, you will often pay again for things that the landlord has already paid the agent for.

While old-school agents like Wycherley’s (in 2016) have lower charges, newer kids on the block are determined to charge desperate tenants as much as they can get away with.

UPFRONT CHARGES

Here is the money a couple wanting to rent a modest two bedroomed flat for £1,000 per month in early 2016 would have to pay upfront before moving in, according to which agent they are renting from:

Aston Burkenshaw                  £3050

Stanley and Co                       £3050 (includes tenancy ending fee payable at the Start!)

Cubitt and West                      £2968

St James lettings                    £2932

Ellmans                                   £2886

Oakley                                     £2896

Roland Gorringe                     £2830

Winkworth                               £2800

Clifford Dann                          £2740

Bradley Property Mgt             £2716

Fox and Sons                          £2550

Wycherleys                             £2320

These figures include one month’s rent in advance, I.5 month’s damage deposit (only 1 month for Wycherleys) and agent’s fees.

So private renting is strictly for people who can lay their hands on that kind of money.

Quite a bit of the agent’s charges go on fees for taking up references, even though the agent charges the landlord for this too(2).  You will also be paying up to £300 (Aston Burkenshaw’s fee) for the tenancy agreement- usually the standard one the agent always uses.

AND THERE’S MORE……..

And that’s just the start of it.

If the agent doesn’t like your references, you will have to have someone to guarantee the rent.  This usually costs extra too. £120 is a typical charge for this.

You will already have probably paid a “holding fee”.  Typically this is around £200 and you will have it deducted from your deposit when you sign the tenancy.  But if the agent doesn’t like your references or your guarantor, you lose the tenancy and the £200.

In some parts of the country agents even charge for viewings. This has not happened in Lewes yet, but agents still take the opportunity to make extra charges.

Ashton Burkenshaw will charge you £75 if you want to move in on a Saturday and many agents will charge you to change the agreement if you want to have a cat.  Roland Gorringe charge £90 for this. Cubitt and West will charge you an extra £180 if you want to have your  granny staying with you.

If you are a group of sharers and you need to change one of the people who shares, there will often be a charge for this.  £150 is common for this, though Ashton Burkenshaw charge you £300

Normally you sign a contract for 6 months and then the tenancy runs on, on a monthly basis.  But if a landlord wants to renew the tenancy after 6 months the agent will charge the tenant for this.  For example Fox and son charges £114.  In other parts of the country we know that agents insist on 6 monthly renewals just to get the fee.  We don’t know if that happens in Lewes.

GOING THE EXTRA MILE TO MAKE PROFITS

Some agents go the extra mile to make charges.  Cubitt and West have a “rent in advance” admin charge, and charge if they come round and you are not in (although there seems to be no payment to you if they say they will come round and don’t turn up.)  Stanley and Co save money by making you pay the end of tenancy fee at the start of the tenancy so they can bank it early.

When you come to move out there are often more charges. The tenant will often pay around £100 for the agent to check the inventory on behalf of the landlord.  If you want a reference for your new landlord then charges of between £20 and £42 per reference will be levied.

This bizarre system incentivises agents to charge both landlord and tenant for the same work and also encourages them to set up systems which maximise their fees rather than ensuring good value for tenants and landlords.

Agents are not silly enough to charge the landlord for references; instead they charge a fee for “tenant selection”.  They say this is for getting the tenant (not difficult) and making sure they are ok by taking up references.  For full management Ashton Burkenshaw charge landlords 19.2% of the total rent, although others take a more modest 12%.

This research was done by Lewes Homes for All in early 2016 using material from the web sites of letting agents, supplemented by material gained from visits to agents.