Should i name and shame

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Simon Fuller
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Hi,
I have just parted ways with a letting agents as I had completely lost trust in them and believe they were ripping me off. The parting was amicable enough in the end, but a few days after leaving I have received a bill for a hefty termination fee. Annoyingly, the termination fee is in my contract with them, but not very well worded, and frustratingly I missed it despite reading the contract before terminating. (That said, I do feel slightly like they laid a trap for me, by suggesting a different termination date to the one I initially suggested, thus increasing the fee due but never actually mentioning it until after termination, however I foolishly agreed to it, so I can't argue that bit.)

The question I have though is whether to name and shame them for their exploits that led me to terminate in the first place. And even whether what they did could formally be considered mal-practice, or just a bad mistake.

Among a large number of small problems, the worst one, was to do with Sky TV charges. They offer (student) tenants a service where they can pay a little extra rent to have sky included. It is supposed to work in my favour, as the extra rent costs more than the sky, but then they charged me £980 (per property, at 2 properties) for a years sky, which is far more than the extra rent was bringing in, and also way more than sky should cost, as I have sky in my own home.

As I was not satisfied with the £960 charge on my rent statements, I asked them for receipts for the sky but they would not provide any. After relentless requests for receipts they finally told me they do not pay for the sky, the tenants do, and they pay the tenants back. I questioned the fact that they did not seem to be asking the tenants to provide the receipts but they had no answer for it. So I took it upon myself to ring the tenants and ask them what they were paying for sky.

One of the houses did not even have sky! They were 'on a different package'. When I brought this up with the agents, I got the money back in my account within a day, but never received an apology, and only after pressing them did I even get an acknowledgement of the 'mistake'.

For the other property, I spoke with the tenants, and it turned out they were paying £496 for the year, almost half what the agents were charging me. When I challenged the agent about this and how ridiculous this was they tried to defend it. They said they had negotiated a special discount with sky, and they should be entitled to some recompense for their services. However I countered by pointing out that they were collecting commission on the additional rent charged, so there was no need to charge any further. They also tried to claim that £980 is the 'true' cost of sky (for TV only), but even retail price with all channels is less than this, and lets face it, nobody pays retail price because there is always an offer. Eventually after much arguing they refunded me the difference. I suspect it may have been a front, but they genuinely did not seem to think that there was anything wrong with what they are doing. (Yet, if it was so 'OK', why did they go to such lengths to hide what was happening).

What worries me is that this agents have over 100 properties on their books, and of those, perhaps 30 ish have the sky package. The agents are profiting by about £600 for every one, and the landlords probably don't even know it. Plus how many other times are they charging for sky that doesn't even exist! They once told me they 'urge all landlords to check their rent statements carefully' but how can you check something when the only way to actually find out the truth is to call your tenants and ask what really happened?!

Sorry for the long post, but is there anything I can or should do about this?

Thanks
Simon

23/03/2017 21:08

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