OpenRent Community

Money taken for referencing/Vouch scheme

Hello, I am helping an elderly relative move out of independent living into the community. I found a home for him and he viewed it. On his behalf I paid £75.00 to Vouch to pay for referencing as due to him being on pension credit it was agreed that there would be no deposit as he had someone to be guarantor. I was sent an electronic form to complete and he had to sign. During this process he decided that he could not go ahead due to a genuine health problem. This process was not completed. I have asked for a return of this money but the agency have gone quiet, not answering my emails. This man has had a terrible 9 months of no visits to where he was living due to Covid restrictions and he is upset enough without being out of pocket. I have given them a period of time to respond. If they don’t refund, what else can I do?

Can you explain exactly what the £75 payment was for. What did the agency say it covered? Since the Tenant Fees Act, it is illegal for a landlord or agent to charge a prospective tenant or related person a fee for referencing.

Hello, I was told it was due to needing a deposit free rent, paying the full deposit I would get that back when tenancy terminated. I choose to go with the no money in advance. To do this he required a guarantor, so they would need references. I have emails from this company called vouch naming references. I have discovered this is illegal, so asking the forum if they know about this.

I don’t fully understand what has happened here, but it sounds like you agreed with the agent to get one of the deposit insurances rather than pay a cash deposit. If that is the case then I assume the £75 is the fee for the insurance, which is legal as long as the agency is not top-slicing it. If they have already purchased the deposit insurance then they will not refund it to you if you back out. If this is the case then the guarantor and references are red herrings in all this. Check with the agency exactly why they won’t refund the money.

As I did not submit this application/form telephoned the agency, was told I had to speak to the person who was there when he viewed the property. She is the senior member of staff, she never said I couldn’t have the refund. Despite emails she has not answered. I did ask for the details of the person doing the viewing on the actual day, in case we were late. She wouldn’t give me his number, just saying we need to be there on time. I have given them untill 13/11/2020 to refund the money. I would have thought they have had ample time to say why they can’t refund, but I’m just ignored.

Just to add, I have googled this vouch company, they charge the agents £5.00, so the agency must top slice this.

ANYTHING an agent gets for you, does for you they add on a charge.

When charging something, is it lawful to not explain the consequences and maybe get you to sign an agreement when paying a fee? I’m suffering from being wise after the event.

I bet it was in the small print which hardly any of us read