Letting fee dilemma

Question from Triana updated on 11th December 2017:

I paid a letting fee to someone who was meant to be an agent for a well trusted real estate company. We signed the tenancy agreement, paid bond, first weeks rent and letting fee only to find out that the person we paid all this too was not meant to be involved in the process of all of this. The actual agent that was meant to be doing our application and tenancy agreements told us he was never meant to be involved in anything as she’s the actual agent for the property. Should we get our letting fee back??

Our expert Jennifer Sykes responded:

Under the Residential Tenancies Act, a letting fee may be charged by a letting agent (such as a property manager) or solicitor to grant or assign a tenancy. A letting agent is someone who carries out the grant or assignment of the tenancy on behalf of the landlord. The Act does not specify the amount that can be charged as a letting fee, therefore it can vary, however it is usually one weeks’ rent plus GST.

Speak with the landlord to determine whether the letting fee has been paid to a person who did not have permission to grant or assign the tenancy to you. If you feel the landlord lead you to believe that person
was their agent and had permission to grant you a tenancy, you can make an application to the Tenancy Tribunal to have the issue resolved if you are unable to resolve it between yourselves.

You will need to seek independent legal advice on what other options are available to you to recover the money paid if the person that the letting fee was paid to was not entitled to charge the fee, and they were
never authorised by the landlord to act on their behalf.

For more on the rights and responsibilities of landlords and tenants, including how to apply to the Tenancy Tribunal go to www.tenancy.govt.nz.

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment provides information and guidance on building law and compliance, services including weathertight homes, and advice for tenants and landlords.

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