Surprised by letting fee

Question from Claire updated on 30th May 2013:

We moved into a property after seeing an agent's ad on Trade Me. However, we had minimal contact with the agent, the landlord's daughter showed us around and went through the tenancy agreement and chattels with us. At no point did she mention a letting fee. We have now been invoiced from the agency for a fee of $500. We are horrified! What are our righs on this please?

Our expert Alan Bruce responded:

Under the Residential Tenancies Act 1986 (the Act), a letting fee may be charged by a letting agent or solicitor at the direction of a landlord for the grant or assignment of a tenancy (this can include finding you a property to rent and signing up a tenancy agreement with you). Many real estate and property management agents charge a letting fee as part of their general business practice. If you consider that the requirement that a letting fee be paid was not explained to you, or if you believe that you have been misled in any way, you should discuss your concerns with the agent and your landlord in the first instance with a view of coming to an agreement. If you are unable to reach an agreement, you may apply to the Tenancy Tribunal for a decision on the matter. To discuss your situation further, or for information and advice about applying to the Tenancy Tribunal, you can visit the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, Building and Housing Group’s website (, or call 0800 TENANCY (0800 836 262).

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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