Estate agents are increasing their earnings from landlords by inflating costs for arranging property maintenance, according to sources reported in the Telegraph.
The usual fee for carrying out services such as sourcing tenants and organising credit checks is around 15 per cent, but it has been claimed that some estate agents are building in additional profit by inflating contractors’ bills, and also requiring a cut of revenue from those firms – sometimes of up to 60 per cent.
Landlords are not made aware of these additional costs, which they are liable for.
Some sources suggest that such practices have been commonplace for many years. One instance of a mystery shopping exercise revealed that charges for services such as gas safety checks were being inflated by a factor of six.
The “secret commissions” taken from contractors are of particular note, with some suggesting they could be fraudulent.
Such practices may be considered a stable source of additional income for estate agents.
However, the Trading Standards Institute is unaware of any allegations related to such over-charging by estate agents.
What to do if you believe you have been overcharged by an agent
Landlords can complain to The Property Ombudsman if they feel they have been a victim of such ‘kickback’ practices.
While estate agents are not regulated by the government, agents that are members of bodies such as National Approved Letting Scheme, Residential Landlords Association or UK Association of Letting Agents, may offer more transparent lettings services.
Perhaps you’re one of our landlord building insurance customers who has experienced such practices. If so, do tell us about your experiences below.