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my estate agents and their "bill inclusive package"

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petronius
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my estate agents and their "bill inclusive package"

#90579

Postby petronius » October 25th, 2017, 11:59 am

I let a property to students through an estate agent.

I just realised that they offer tenants a "bill inclusive package" of £20 pppw as an alternative to paying all individual bills. There is a "Compulsory internet charge of £49 per month if you opt out our of inclusive bills package".

I was never told about this package and I feel this is just a way to charge students more without the landlord benefitting from it. I believe that this has gone on for a few years.

What do you think? Is this legal? should I challenge the agents about it and if so in which terms?

modellingman
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Re: my estate agents and their "bill inclusive package"

#90972

Postby modellingman » October 26th, 2017, 6:56 pm

I think there are two perspectives here: commercial and legal.

From the commercial perspective, you are the one who has made the investment in the property. It is you who should decide whether the property is to be offered on "all-inclusive" terms and, if you do decide to do this, it is you who should get the rewards (and take the risks) associated with any arrangements concerning the property's utility bills. By all means listen to an agent's advice, but unless you have delegated it to the agent, it is your decision on what terms your property is rented out. Unfortunately, it sounds as if the agent very much regards the property as though s/he owns it and therefore is at liberty to abuse her/his position by creating a nice little earner at the expense of you and your tenants. In your position, I'd be asking what other abuses are going on (deductions from deposits are a favourite one where student tenants seem woefully unaware of their rights). I would certainly be changing agents for the next letting cycle, if not sooner.

From the legal perspective, the agency agreement you have with the agent and the tenancy agreement are good starting points. If the property is being managed on your behalf by the agent, then the agency agreement should set out what fees the agent is entitled to deduct from the monthly payments made by the tenants. The tenancy agreement is an agreement between yourself (as landlord) and the tenants even though it may well have been drawn up by the agent and signed by the agent on your behalf. The tenancy agreement should identify all the payments that the tenants are required to make and should identify for each utility service (gas, electricity, water, telecomms) whether the landlord or tenant is responsible for the bills. You may wish to use any discrepancies between what the agreements say about all-inclusive and the agent's actual practice as an additional stick to the commercial one in deciding precisely how you deal with the agent.

There are some good agents around but, unfortunately, the activity attracts far more than its share of chancers, bullsh*t merchants, incompetents and bullies. IMHO, you should shop around for a replacement and ditch the one you have.

chas49
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Re: my estate agents and their "bill inclusive package"

#91006

Postby chas49 » October 26th, 2017, 9:58 pm

Are you paying for broadband at the property? If so, what does the tenancy agreement actually say about payment? Presumably you're not getting the £49.

I would think there's a plausible argument that the agent is defrauding the tenant/you. I wonder if this could be a criminal (police) matter?


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