Today’s been a very angry day. In fact I can’t even recall the last time I was this angry. Dealing with the real estate agency has been horrible. They have been screwing us right between the buttcrack so hard that I’m starting to enjoy it. I stopped clenching and just bent over even more and gave in. Now I know what rape feels like.
Sorry about the above mental picture. I believe I owe you dinner first before going down that road.
Here’s what happened. I and my housemate agreed to rent a 3 bed flat in Central London. The flat is da bomb. It is in a fantastic location and we love it. However, we ran into a few complications with the agency.
Our initial plan was to rent with a couple i.e. four people in the flat. We told this to the agent at our very first viewing and said that we haven’t yet found the new potential tenants. We were told that this is no problem and that we can do that. We agreed to make an offer for the property based on that.
The following day the agent (Blond Bimbo) called me again and said that we need to increase our offer (for the weekly rent) to make sure the landlord accepts it. So in order to sweeten the deal I reluctantly agreed to increase it by £10 pw… i.e. circa £43 pcm.
The next day the Old Hag (Blond Bimbo’s manager) called me and said that if we have a couple as tenants we would have to apply for some license because of health and safety reasons and that the landlord wanted to increase the rent by a further £40 pw i.e. £173 pcm because of extra “wear and tear”… so just like that the rent had increased by £216 pcm. I was told the license would cost about £500 as well. I immediately said we can’t afford that and asked what if we had just one person instead of a couple. She said that she’d get back to me and on a later phone call said that the rent would stay the same i.e. the plus £10 pw amount. That was acceptable I thought as this would also save the £500 license cost.
Our holding deposit of two weeks’ rent was taken and the referencing process began. I already wrote about that in my previous post – it was a nightmare as well.
We were still looking for a tenant and found a potential one but were not able to have a viewing because the landlord had the property rented out on AirBnB. We had to wait for more than a week to get that viewing (which was on 29th March – only two days before our move in date). They wanted us to sign the contract and pay way before we had the viewing in order to “close the file” and make sure we can move in on the 1st April.
The agency was charging us a £180 admin charge for the contract. I specifically emailed them to ask if there’s going to be another admin charge if we add a third tenant. It did not make sense to me to pay £180 now and then another £180 again the following week. Blond Bimbo’s email response asked me to call her to discuss this. So I did and she said that there will be no admin fee for adding the third tenant because they’ve always known we were adding another person. Following that I signed the contract and paid the agency all the fees, rent and deposit. This £180 fee is the key reason for my anger.
A week later, we managed to get a viewing for the new potential tenant (Amazon). She was very pleased with the flat and agreed to rent it with us. Things were looking good. Blond Bimbo took Amazon back to the agency’s office to scan her passport and take the referencing fee of £60. At least that’s what me and Amazon thought would happen.
Amazon said that when she went to the office with Blond Bimbo to pay and scan her passport, one of Blond Bimbo’s colleagues said that “you shouldn’t take that payment, what if it doesn’t work out and she can’t move in”. The license issue was news to Miss Bimbo as well and they didn’t take any payment from Amazon.
It was raining outside and Romario was on his bike – as you do when you’re Dutch. We decided to wait until the rain stops before heading back home after the flat viewing. That’s when Romario got a call from Old Hag regarding the license. She said that we need a license to have a third tenant. I spoke to Old Hag as well as we previously talked about this issue and that this would only apply if there were 4 tenants. She mumbled some crap and said that this was not the case and that a license was definitely needed for 3 people as well.
This was very bad news. We went home and were proper panicking. We discussed all kinds of scenarios about what we can do because we could not cover the rent between the two of us. We definitely needed another tenant to afford the place.
We sent a long email to the agency detailing our disappointment and concerns about the whole situation. However, we asked them to resolve this situation in a fair way and wanted to work together in the future.
We had a read through our contract again and found out about a massive exit penalty – almost £4,000. We were effectively in a position where we couldn’t afford to cancel or stay in the contract. That’s when we started to feel proper screwed.
The next day we received a response email from Old Hag which was very apologetic and said that they were not trying to hide any information from us on purpose etc. It was all bullshit. Later we got confirmation from them that the third tenant could move in if we applied for the House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) license.
We decided that the least bad option for us was to pay for the license (it cost circa £600) and hope for the best. We are very broke right now. Please send me money.
Amazon went to the agency yesterday to get the ball rolling and then she was asked to pay they wanted to take the second £180 admin fee from her as well, along with the £60 referencing fee.
She called me and was very upset about it. I then called Old Hag and was proper angry with them because this is something I specifically discussed with Blond Bimbo previously. Old Hag said there’s no way we can avoid that fee. Amazon decided to walk away from this shitty agency and we fully support her decision. Sadly we are locked into the contract and can’t do the same.
That second admin fee was the last drop. We have been lied to so many times and the agency keeps changing their story and has introduced new hidden fees on multiple occasions. All the agency fees add up to almost £1,300 but should’ve been £504 following our very first meeting.
We have decided that we will only communicate with them in writing. I do not believe a word they say.
It is also possible that the property already has the license and they are trying to pass the cost on to us. I’ve asked them to provide proof that they applied for the license (we want to see receipts, applications etc) and that it indeed cost what they said it would. Same thing for the “inventory check” for which they charged us as well.
It’s been such a horrid day. The only good thing is that it can’t get any worse, right?