Agent launches bid to find out what agents are charging landlords on ‘hidden’ mark-ups

An agent has created surveys asking tradespeople to participate, in an attempt to find out what other agents are charging landlords on ‘hidden’ contractor mark-ups.

Rockett Home Rentals, in Newcastle-under-Lyme, is asking electricians, plumbers, locksmiths, gas engineers and gardeners about their payments.

Owner Bill Rockett said: “We are running a survey to see how much agents are fleecing landlords on hidden contractor mark-ups. We feel that with the impending tenant fee ban this is getting worse.

“As an agent who does not do this, I feel that it is underhand when competing for an instruction and when managing a property.

“We have created surveys for the most common contractors.

“This is completely anonymous and I am happy to share the results with agents who do not use hidden fees.

“These agents can then use this data on appraisals to show the real fees that landlords will pay to agents that do hide mark-ups.”


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  1. DarrelKwong43

    Well…you can start with foxtons being 25% referral fee included within the final invoice although to be fair it’s clearly stated in their terms with the landlord

    However then it goes on to say *this does not affect the final amount you pay* which is the incredible part of the terms!!

    1. Dom_P

      I don’t work for Foxtons, and just playing devils advocate; does that not mean that the contractor takes the hit, i.e. their standard rate for x job is £100, which they charge everyone. If the customer is referred from Foxtons they still charge £100, but they then give Foxtons £25 as a referral fee?

      If that’s the case, I personally don’t see a problem as the contractor is the one taking less than usual but in exchange for a higher volume of business.

      1. Peter

        I am receiving reports from several contractors that most agents they do work for either want a commission or load the invoice.

        The latter, I have heard, is sometimes achieved by the agent having a blank invoice for the contractor and simply marking it up to be presented to landlord whilst only paying the lower original invoice submitted by the contractor, thereby keeping the difference. Sleep well do you!

        The former concerns me in that it would not surprise me that contractors load their invoice to factor in the commission, but if contractors are having to do this to the majority of agents, does it not now set the normal price i.e. contractors assume an agent will want commission so it is factored in. The problem then is that landlords using agents who do not want commission still pay the loaded invoice and it is the contractor who benefits.

  2. Essjaydee51

    Why don’t you just get on with running your own business!!

    There are enough busybodies and bureaucracy  out there without this and you can only share this info with agents that aren’t anonymous .

    Use your cheapness against other agents perceived fees with alleged built in intro fees,

    As it is anonymous, you can’t find out who they are anyway unless you are asking for whistleblowers.

  3. The date & time sponsored by PIE is;

    That’ll be accurate then because contractors never lie and they are the first to bite the hand that feeds them.

  4. Chatty Cathy

    Chris Wood could do this now that he’s got more time on his hands?

  5. DASH94

    “As an agent who does not do this, I feel that it is underhand when competing for an instruction and when managing a property.”


    Unless your new business strategy is to say to prospects ‘don’t use X,Y and Z ‘cos they mark up’, rather than positively selling your own business,  woudn’t that give you an advantage as your contractor payments are lower?

    The contractors have no way of knowing whether the landlords are aware that they’re paying a mark up anyway.

  6. Agent Derbyshire

    Couldn’t have put it better myself Essjaydee51

    With everything else going on, mounting legislation, tenant fee ban etc, this “agent” takes time out to have a go at his own industry and for what benefit? Perhaps you should ask your team how you can help out effectively rather than dwelling on this pathetic exercise! There is an argument that agents should make an admin charge to their contractors for organising and ultimately being responsible for the works carried out. Get a grip!


  7. debbiedoesalot

    What is the monthly management charge for then? I agree wholeheartedly with Rockett Homes, we feel the same way. Landlords should be made fully aware of the sneaky commissions some agents charge as it WILL cost them more for maintenance works to be carried out. This is something they should take into account when choosing an agent.

  8. Woodentop

    The purpose of the exercise is …. so you can try and win business using other agents naughty behaviour (often declared) based on  anonymous data!!! Litigation could cost you, if you are wrong and say the wrong thing. This exercise good just as easily backfire. It is a fact of life “mark-ups” have and will always be there for those that want to use it. Sounds like the norm today is to not sell yourself on your own convictions, but slag your competitor off to win business. Sounds desperation, even if your motive is genuine concern.

  9. Woodhen

    Many readers on this site will be fully aware that software providers now include a % discount on contractors invoices which are not reflected or do not show up in Landlords statements. In addition they then add on another % which is in their T & Cs

    1. Peter

      You are correct, the software I use has such a facility and it is populated with a 0, just like my halo.

    2. cyberduck46

      Surely this is criminal facilitation?


      Which software companies provide this functionality in their software?







      1. Woodhen

        It’s standard across the board of the major Agency Management software providers some Agents get round it by stating the discount is due if Invoice paid within 7 days!!

  10. MemyselfandI

    We have an agent locally (Countrywide!) who doubles the charge of the inventory clerk. The inventory clerk is losing business because that landlord has told 2 other landlords not to use her because she is expensive. That chatter only multiplies in a small town.

    She can’t have a go at the agent because she is biting the hand that feeds her.

  11. MemyselfandI

    Savills have another way around this. They charge contractors a fee to be on their approved contactor list. Therefore they’re not directly getting a kick back from each job.


  12. ringi

    I now self manage a property in Cambridge, I could not find a Gas person to do the safety check as cheaply as it was var the agent.

    Another property in the Midlands, when we changed agents, the cost of a Gas safety check reduced by 40%.   (The new agents also had lower “direct” charges, and provided a much better service.)

    In Stockport, I pay about the same as what I have seen agents quote.

    Personly I would like to see the regulations making it clear that agents may not charge any “hidden” chargers or take “kickbacks” from trade people, along with a requirement that the auditor checks they are not doing so.

    1. Woodhen

      The new Agents Code of Practice makes it very clear about no hidden charges

  13. CoastLet

    Speaking as an agent that has never charged mark-ups on contractor fees (most of our competitors do) and have actively promoted this fact I have to say that we will now be joining our competitors and will be looking to make a (modest) charge to the contractor.
    I’m afraid times are now changing……with the frankly ludicrous fee ban legislation I think agent’s must make reasonable charges where appropriate in order to continue to be able to offer the levels of service our clients are used to. It’s been a tough decision but I think we can keep both Landlords and Contractors happy. We supply a lot of contractors with enough business to pretty much give them full time work, some may pass the charge on to the Landlord via higher invoicing but generally we are able to source cheaper labour than a Landlord will himself by way of the volume of work that we pass….for example our clients often get a GSC 40% cheaper than they could via other local providers.
    The bottom line is that contrary to the ban’s ‘intentions’ I believe that the tenants will end up paying via increased rent over time.

  14. HIT MAN

    We have it written in our terms and conditions that if we are asked to supply quotes then we add 10% for arranging the repair, this covers the time spent arranging the quotes, organising the repair and gives the landlords a guaranteed job from qualified insured contractors, many of our landlords arrange their own repairs and find they can’t get them done as quick or as cheap as we can, we offer a rent collection service that includes an option to landlords for us to complete repairs at an additional cost, our contractors don’t advertise therefore can offer better rates and due to the volumes of business they recieve from us we sometimes get a bottle or box of biscuits off them at Christmas. A couple of agents near us are also builder/maintenance companies, they charge high maintenance charges, many of their landlords have come to us. I believe that if you are upfront and include all fees and charges in your contract T&Cs then landlords accept that, after all managing repairs is not usually included we are not project managers, we are letting agents.

  15. landadvice28

    Have those who are so busy bashing Bill Rocketts valiant efforts for decency within the Industry ever taken the time to familiarise themselves with Industry Guidance.  Para 8.21 of the COMPETITION AND MARKET AUTHORITY’S GUIDANCE FOR LETTINGS PROFESSIONALS ON CONSUMER PROTECTION LAW” states that Agents “should inform the landlord of any commission they receive”

    SURELY those with adverse comments on this topic do not want us to break the law – do they?


    Dave Absalom


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