In the UK renters need to take great care

when paying over reservation deposits

to landlords' agents

When looking to rent a home in the UK, once you’ve selected one, you will likely be asked to pay a holding or reservation deposit.  Sometimes this is referred to by the landlord’s agent as a “fee of intent” in order to distinguish it from the security (or tenancy) deposit which is paid under a lease to provide the landlord with security against damages or other breaches of contract.  That’s because security deposits are subject to strict rules.

Unrepresented renters frequently pay holding deposits (or fees of intent) over to landlords or their agents in the UK without having any idea of the terms on which their deposit will be held.  They are given the impression that the home will be reserved for them and taken off the market while referencing checks and other formal paperwork is sorted out.

But in many cases, the landlord will have appointed a number of agents who are all marketing the home separately – and there are no sanctions that can be applied if the home is rented to someone else in spite of the fact that a holding deposit has been paid.

Renters who are not given the benefit of independent rental search support (and by “independent” I mean, crucially, independent of any landlord’s agent) need to ask for the terms in writing BEFORE they pay over ANY funds.

Some issues your assignees should consider are, for example, what will happen to their security deposit money if:

•    They are presented with unreasonable terms in the proposed lease
•    The landlord rents through another agent
•    The reference checks are unreasonable such that the renter doesn’t pass

Unfortunately, there are too many unscrupulous letting agents in the UK who are content to swindle unknowledgeable renters.  We constantly have to be on our guard against them to keep our corporate clients and their employees safe.

If you have any questions or comments about this, do use our Contact Form.

My husband and I had a wonderful experience working with Saunders 1865 relocation team. They were always available to help us correspond with our landlord management company. They were great at following up in a timely manner and organized many repairs for us. We'd recommend anyone moving to London to use their services as they made the transition very easy.


Ashleigh Ellman, New York