Confusion as industry figure complains his daughter will be charged excessive reference fee

The subject of tenants’ fees charged by agents was aired yesterday on Twitter – but turned out to be based on something of a misunderstanding.

It started with an angry Ed Mead complaining that an agent in Bristol, Ocean, was apparently planning to charge £300 to reference one tenant.

Mead complained that the charge “has no place in a modern lettings business” and said the real cost would be around £45.

Henry Pryor followed up by saying: “HOW MUCH?”

He said that this sort of charge was responsible for the ban.

Mead went on to tweet that another agent had emailed him to say they could do the referencing for £20 inside 24 hours.

A clearly angry Mead said: “A £360 charge to my daughter is simply outrageous.”

Pryor tweeted to ARLA: “What’s your view of one of your members charging £300 plus VAT to reference a single tenant? Is there a level you would condemn?”

In fact, there was a confusion between referencing and admin.

Pryor then went on to post up Ocean’s fees, saying “they’d make Dick Turpin blush!”

The fees tariff confirms that charges include an admin fee of 42% including VAT of the first month’s rent, subject to a minimum fee of £360 including VAT.

Pryor returned to the fray shortly after, by posting up Romans’ tenant fees – £499 including VAT for an admin fee per property, including one tenant’s reference. Pryor commented: “Blimey, looks like Romans know how to charge”, and wondered if anyone else could top that.

The thread finished with Pryor taking ARLA to task for not saying what it thought constituted an excessive fee.

Mead however told EYE that Ocean had initially put in its email that the charge would be £360 including VAT for a reference, but then said it was the admin fee for a change of tenant. The charge seems in line with a number of other agents’ admin charges to tenants.

Shelter not letting up on pressure to make sure ‘fees ban goes through’


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  1. sb007ck

    I’m not being funny, but what hope do members of the public and government have of understand the fees that letting agents charge if a so called industry expert cant understand them or read the correspondence properly. I’m not judging the amount of £360, but its probably wise to get a grasp of what is involved before banging on about it. Or….perhaps he should have taken this up directly with the letting agent concerned rather than seeking to humiliate them on social media, and having looked through the twitter thread just now, there was no apology, just a bumbling blame towards the agent for mis-communication

  2. smile please

    Hilarious, a chap you can pay to look on Rightmove and find you a house and charge thousands of pounds is moaning about an agent charging a few hundred quid!

    1. AlexBroadfoot

      careful, smile please, I’m pretty sure that’s the template of an argument that Purple Bricks employ for side stepping high street agency…

    2. KingTony

      Not to mention all the content soley provided by us all (High Street Agents) free of charge!!!

  3. drakeco75

    What have Romans done for us?



    1. Anonymous Coward

      Did you know that The Romans (not Romans) are responsible for the size of the space shuttles, satellites in orbit and things that can bolt on to the International Space Station…?

      1. AgentV


  4. Shaun77

    If you think that’s bad. A friend of mine is looking to let a property in Newcastle and the agency he viewed through want half a months rent, non-refundable, simply to apply. In this case, it was £550 plus VAT.

    Completely outrageous. No wonder the government felt action was required

  5. KByfield04

    So a couple of questions for Ed here- although I fully appreciate he is no longer part of D&G that is what his reputation is for. Looking on their website I found:

    1. No clear disclosure of tenancy fees on their website- certainly no links on any property listings (complete breach of current regs)

    2. Admin fee of of £300, references of £45 per person and a Check Out fee of approx £200- so on a 2 person tenancy approx £600. Ouch!

    We’re a London agent and (given what clients pay in the capital) our equivalent fees to Tenants would be £276.

    Can you scream extortion when the brand you helped build charges similar amounts…..more to the point- should you?


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