£200 to sign a contract? £300 to write to an employer? £120 credit check? Agencies have a free pass to charge a bundle for taskswhich cost a bit of photocopying and 10 minutes of time.
But a conversation this week had us thinking about this and how we respond to people who are taking liberties with our limited savings.
We were on Galton Road, Bearwood, doing door step visits to talk about this and the multitude of other tenants issues in the area. I knocked on Sandra’s door, she told me she’s been living in the area for nearly a year and was renting her home through a high street agent.
“We’ve heard a lot of complaints that this agent is charging extortiante fees,” I said, “How do you feel about them?”
“Yes they were expensive and I paid them,” she replied, “I wanted the house, its nice.”
“As well as the initial fees have you had to pay to extend your contract as well in this time?” I asked.
“No. I had to sign a a new contract and they wanted £200 off me to do it. So I told them I wasn’t paying it, it was ridiculous, and I’d find somewhere else to live and they could find themselves a new tenant,” was her response, “they didn’t ask again and I’m still in the property.”
Standing up to being ripped off and saying no is difficult and we take our hats off to people like Sandra who do. But it is hard. We get charged daily for many essential things like housing and get used to it. And disputing with your agent risks loosing a home or being put on a rolling contract where rent increases are a greater risk.
But what if more of us said no? What if everyone with the same agent said no together?
There’s safety in numbers.