‘Very few agents’ bother to reply to requests for property details, says Peter Knight

There is, it seems, nothing like moving house to bring home to someone in the business what it really is like.

Peter Knight, of the Property Academy, was renting until very recently, and has now bought.

His checkout report with the letting agent was fine, with no deductions.

No scratches on the kitchen worktop, no scruff marks on a wall.

And yet, his final bill from the agent nevertheless showed a £318 deduction.

How, he asks, can this be justified?

The agent concerned earned over £15,000 in fees and commissions for the tenancy, but Knight said that the £318 ‘fine’ made him feel shafted – “and that will be the last memory of them I take with me”.

Knight, who is lining up a new initiative after deciding to retire his Estate and Letting Agency of the Year events, has also been busy emailing “many estate agents” for property details.

It is, he says, “incredible how few bother to reply and of those who do, how long it takes”.

Your views are of course welcome. Knight’s view is here:

four-i Newsletter Issue 161

 

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23 Comments

  1. smile please

    Moaning about a £318 checkout fee. You would have thought somebody in ‘The Business’ would have read what they are signing.

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    1. smile please

      5 dislikes by 8am on a nothing comment.

      Peter you are making yourself look more foolish with every click!

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  2. Fawkes

    I’m sure that all the agents that have supported his Lettings Live events over the years are over the moon that this ‘industry champion’  has expressed his views so publicly.

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  3. smile please

    Wow I think we are experiencing our very own “Rattner” moment.

    Sombody with supposed industry knowledge does not read a contract before signing it,.

    Has a pop at estate agents on an industry site and then goes on to dislike comments at a ferocious pace!

    Well done sir!

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  4. Ted58

    Should have cleaned it properly LOL 🙂

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  5. FromTheHip64

    Pretty foolish not you have read the small print but that’s not the point. Hasn’t anyone got any criticism of that ridiculous checkout fee?….or are you all letting agents worried about no longer being able to rip of your tenants.

    £318? How the hell can that ever be justified? The agent who charged this and others like him are why the banning of tenants fees can’t come quick enough.

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again……charge your client (you know, the one who owns the property and employed you to do a job) not the tenant. We do that in sales you know….charge the client. It’s a novel concept. You letting agents should try it.

    £318?…very embarrassing, the agent should be ashamed of himself.

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    1. BillyTheFish

      Perhaps it was in Knightsbridge where the inventory clerk charges £200 + VAT and the letting agent charges £65 + VAT ‘admin’ to deal with arranging and processing the report which benefits both Landlord and Tenant which is possibly why they charge the inventory at the start of the Tenancy to the Landlord? Just perhaps of course.

      OR

      All letting agents are rip off merchants unlike our more decent counterparts on the estate agency side who have never done such a thing your honour.

      😉

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  6. AgencyInsider

    In his piece Knight says:

    “Can someone please explain how a £318 checkout fee can be justified? I asked several of our Mastermind Group members and received replies such as “well, was it in the terms & conditions?” and “it goes towards the overall fees” but neither of these satisfied me.”

    Since he is not saying ‘this charge came as a complete surprise’ we can assume that at the outset of the tenancy he knew the charge would be made. If he thought it unjustifiable then the time to have queried it was back then.

     

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    1. smile please

      Spot on.

      To be honest its a mad fee (we do not charge, check out fees).

      BUT

      Its was in the T&C’s he either did not agree OR accepted when taking out the tenancy.

      He should give Gascoigne Halman a call, maybe he could jump on the “Oh i knew what i was signing but dont like it now” legal case.

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      1. smile please

        *Read not “agree” *

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  7. NickTurner

    The words foot and shot come to mind with Peters comments. As others have said it would have been in the T’s & C’s  whether you agree with it or not.

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  8. RealAgent

    I can understand why he may have been a tad upset by a bill of that amount as it does seem high but then I guess it depends on what sort of property he was renting. It’s difficult to know whether he was also charged a “check in” fee which would in my opinion make the charging of both unreasonable.

    Many of the agents in our area ourselves included, charge a “check in” fee to the tenant as its them that are getting the benefit of a third party review of the condition when they go in. We then charge the Landlord the “check out” fee as its the landlord that gets the benefit of the third party reference back to the inventory and check in report when deciding on dilaps to ask for.

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  9. Simon Bradbury

    I think the point that Peter Knight was ( in my view justifiably) making was about the impression this left in the mind of the tenant just at the point when they were going to exit that relationship with the letting agency. Peter didn’t appear to be arguing about the legality or otherwise of the charge – how could he? He appeared to be asking if we as an agent should at least consider what the “Last Touch” might feel like to the customer – and in this case the feeling was not a good one.

    Personally, I was most impressed with the “Last Touch” demonstrated by Andrew Giller of housepartnership.co.uk that Peter referenced in the full article. Not the gift of an umbrella but the fact that Andrew (an owner of the business) invested his own time and energy into an actual visit to check that everything was ok.

    I’m reminded of the Maya Angelou quote…

    “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel”

    Isn’t that what we should be considering?

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    1. smile please

      How is his “First Touch” regarding this article? – Maybe take his own advice ….

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  10. KByfield04

    Peter isnt moaning because he didnt read the small print- he is relaying the impact pointless fees have an a persons perception of a brand/agency experience. As Peter advises, the agent in question earned around £15,000 in fees but then felt the need to add the charge at the end. As we all know, an agent can choose to enforce terms as and how we choose to and can easily customise such (Tenant) fees around their fee earning- at least, until we know the outcome of the ban.

    You can knock Peter for his comments, but ignore this at your peril. If many of you want to know what drives the rise of online agent services which have damaged so many ‘full service’ agents out there- it is **** like this that makes people feel ripped off.

    If you want people to use your services once and then never again for the sake of a small additional charge then crack on- the rest of us will retain their business going forwards. However, if you want to offer a fair and justified servoce that people value, stay with and recommend then maybe, just maybe, put yourself in the consumers shoes for a change.

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  11. AgencyInsider

    Whenever I purchase good or services I find that I am charged. I expect this. I may not like the charge. If I sufficiently don’t like it I do not purchase the goods or services.

    I repeat my point made earlier. If Peter Knight thought the charge unjustifiable he should have queried it at the outset – or found a different property through a different agent so that he could feel less ‘shafted’ at the end of the tenancy.

    Had this been a ‘hidden’ charge I would have no sympathy for the agent. But in this case it seems their charges were made clear at the outset. Nothing wrong with that.

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    1. observer

      In this last instance, the one where Peter Knight could have found a different property through a different agent, I’d like to ask would the agent have communicated to their landlord that they had this tenant who was very keen but he is refusing to pay the fee of £318 for a check out so won’t take the property.

      That landlord would probably disinstruct that agent on the spot and find one who isn’t putting off somebody who is clearly an excellent tenant (no damage to the flat at all) by their fees.

      The agent isn’t working in the best interests of their client.

      Just because charges are “made clear at the outset” doesn’t mean there is nothing wrong with that. Were the fees even announced prior to seeing the property (as they must be legally now)?

      Every other business in the UK is moving towards transparency and helping the consumer except the property industry.

      Nobody here has commented on Peter Knight’s other remark (the one I would think is most concerning to any estate agent owners out there) that very few get back to him when he emails for property details and those that day take forever.

      These are your leads you are paying for and you are just letting them wash away and providing a terrible customer service.

      Estate agents just aren’t very good at their jobs which is why it is taking more and more of you to sell the same number of homes every year.

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    2. smile please

      Again AgencyInsider you are bang on the money.

      Its like buying a leasehold flat and then stumping £200 per month up in maintenance. Might not like it or agree with it but was in the contract when purchased.

      If he did not like the charge in the agreement he should have queried it (like anybody else can) if the public actually looked at what they signed and voted with their feet the agent would have to change charging structure to keep themselves in business.

      For instance, we do not charge a check in or out fee – We have one fee (circa £300) which covers everything from referencing, AST, Admin, etc – That is a fair fee, we charge that because we make money and stay competitive. IF all the agents in my area offered this for £50 i would have to match or stop offering lettings.

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  12. jasonking

    ( last comment) My thoughts exactly… the potential lead is important but why do you need to email the agent for details ?.. in my experience people who press that “request details” button do so just because it’s there !

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    1. smile please

      Yep, Jason, agree.

      All the details are on the portal / website – Its best practice to follow up but 9/10 if its a lazy request for further details without any information requested you know its will be a voicemail or unanswered email response.

      Annoying people like Peter think its acceptable to conduct “market research” in this manner.

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  13. PeeBee

    Only one comment to make –

    We’re all responding to one side of a story here – and then it’s the ‘side’ that has been offered up.

    NO circumstances to consider; NO counterargument to weigh up; NOTHING – just Mr Knight’s Unofficial Version of Gospel.

    And it could well be exactly that.

    One thing’s a banker – the Agent getting the 5h!t kicked out of it by proxy won’t be coming forward with their own version…

    So make your decisions based upon the ‘facts’ in front of you.

    Oh – but of course… many already have…

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  14. htsnom79

    £15000 in fee’s through the period of the tenancy?

    Sweet Jesus mother of mary and all her little wizards, I’m obviously playing a different game……..room for one more?

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  15. samzawadzki48

    While most comments focus on the fees, the part I can’t get over is the lack of response to enquiries from agents. I’m really keen to know from other readers, do you think there is a lack of stock in the market and far to many enquiries coming in, so agents don’t need to bother replying?

    Too much demand for little supply? Does this mean prices are going to go up in the property market? Conversely if leads are not valuable, can we expect share prices to fall in Rightmove and Zoopla as agents don’t want to pay for leads they don’t need?

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