Letting agents are adding extra charges to buy to let landlord maintenance charges booked for properties they manage, claims repair company.
One of the main culprits is London letting agent Foxtons, according to property entrepreneur and owner of maintenance company aspect.co.uk Will Davies.
Davies alleges Foxtons and other letting agents load repair costs they arrange on behalf of landlords with a commission fee – but fail to make this clear on the bills.
“Basically some letting agents milk their clients by charging them a fee to manage the property and then they take an additional commission from the maintenance companies they use so their clients end up paying more than they should be on top of the charges they are already paying for the service,” he said
Davies also claims this practice is supposed to be mentioned in the contracts landlords sign with their agents, but is often not made clear in the small print.
I believe any agent who does this and does not make this clear to their clients is in breach of industry codes and the proposed guidelines from the Office of Fair Trading,” said Davies.
Davies explained his company has managed property maintenance in London for Foxtons, but stopped when the firm raised commission on each job from 15% to 20%.
“We took a policy decision that we would not do work for any letting agents that wanted to charge a commission as we knew their clients weren’t aware of this and we didn’t want to be associated with what was happening,” said Davies.
One letting agent, Featherstone Leigh, is telling landlords they do not charge commission on repairs.
Director Joanna Hamilton said: “This has been a nice little earner for many of our competitors but the industry needs to move out of the dark ages and treat consumers fairly – there should be no room for these practices. Landlords, many of which do not live in the area rely on their agent to look after their best interests and it is a great shame that many agents consider this bonus legitimate”.
A spokesman for Foxtons was unavailable for comment.