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£600 termination admin fee from letting agent! Any advice?

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I've been using Countrywide as a letting agent for 3 years or more, providing full management for a studio flat, with them taking £50 per month from the rent. Having given 2 months' notice (I'm switching to another agent), they're charging £600 + VAT in termination fees! £50 I could understand, but £600 seems ridiculous. Their contract has a termination clause that makes it sound as if £600 in all must have accrued over the duration of the let, e.g. at £50 per month (or the difference made up if terminating after a few months). I can't see any justification for £600 termination fee so can't imagine anyone would read the contract that way. But of course, since they're collecting the rent from the tenant, they're taking the money whether I like it or not. Any advice on what I can do to avoid what seems to be nothing short of extortion?! Any info gratefully received. More details at http://goo.gl/85TxzA

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What can you do ?

1. Read & fully understand the terms & conditions of the contract between you & the lettings agent.

2. Don't enter into an agreement unless you understand it & want to be bound by it.

3. Always consider the 'what if' scenarios that might result in termination of that contract.

4. TRY to understand how the lettings agent business operates and how they make their profits.

£600 sounds entirely reasonable to me for 1 years full management.

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Hi Richlist - I'd agree that £600 is reasonable for 1 year's full management ... and that's just what they've been getting, at £50 per month. The point is, now that I've given notice to terminate the contract, they want an *additional* £600 + VAT, just to terminate the contract, not for doing any management (as that has been paid for each month, for over 3 years). I also agree that one shouldn't enter into an agreement unless you want to be bound by it, but theirs does not read like you have to pay £600 for nothing just to end the contract (see details on http://goo.gl/85TxzA) ... after all, who would sign it if it did?!

Kevin

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We see a lot of this unfair contract T&C's from landlord's who have not read the small print of their contract with their LA.

Unfortunately you have signed this contract with CW and unless you can prove negligence or mismanagement by CW you will not have a lot of options open to you.

£50 a month is not an unreasonable sum for full management fees so why change LA's if it is not absolutely necessary to do so?

The only other option open for you is to give notice to your tenant and start again. The £600 exit fee will not be payable then as there was a court case recently where this scenario you have was presented before the courts and the LA lost their case.

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The only other option open for you is to give notice to your tenant and start again. The £600 exit fee will not be payable then as there was a court case recently where this scenario you have was presented before the courts and the LA lost their case.

Melboy you have any details on these case?

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We see a lot of this unfair contract T&C's from landlord's who have not read the small print of their contract with their LA.

Unfortunately you have signed this contract with CW and unless you can prove negligence or mismanagement by CW you will not have a lot of options open to you.

£50 a month is not an unreasonable sum for full management fees so why change LA's if it is not absolutely necessary to do so?

The only other option open for you is to give notice to your tenant and start again. The £600 exit fee will not be payable then as there was a court case recently where this scenario you have was presented before the courts and the LA lost their case.

I will have to search it out. But I did read a newspaper article on this very subject in 2014 where the Judge dismissed the case on "Unfair Contractual Terms" that the Landlord would not have been aware of as it was buried deep into the small print of the contract.

It doesn't surprise me that CW have this exit fee in their contracts as I can go back 15 years with CW when they found a tenant for me and it turned out to be a nightmare for me with the tenant they so called "vetted" for my property.

I think it was about this time I decided to fly solo as I knew I could do a better job than CW.

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