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So I'm trying to find a new flat and all I can see online are advertisements from agencies who like to charge £400 for the 'Application' whatever that means, plus another £300 in ambiguous fees and then on top of that they siphon off 10-30% of the rent!

I was hoping to go straight to the apartment buildings and asking the building manager if they could forward me to some of the property owners who are looking to rent out, is this common/a thing? To me it seems like a good idea because we get to cut out the middleman and it makes no difference overall to the building manager/owner.

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    The simple answer is, sure, this can and does happen. It would be a smart arrangement. If you can pull it off, congrats. No, it's not "common" and there's no special arrangement for it. Just be aggressive, ask around and good luck! – Fattie Jan 5 '18 at 12:15
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    It probably won't help you this time around, but the government are planning to change the law so that letting agents can't charge fees to tenants. This will aid transparency...though landlords may choose to increase rents to compensate. – Steve Melnikoff Jan 5 '18 at 13:51
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    Note that while letting agents do take a percentage of the rent, that's a matter for the landlord, not the tenant. Other than any advertised fees at the start or end of any tenancy, the tenant should only be paying the agreed amount for rent each month, no more and no less. – Steve Melnikoff Jan 5 '18 at 13:55
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Depending on where you are located there may be advertising services for agent-less landlords. In Cambridge, the Cambridge Accommodation Notice Board is very popular for exactly this.

If there is a university where you are looking, they probably have an accommodation assistant of some sort, who won’t help you find accommodation if you are not a student, but might at least tell you if there is a similar type of notice board or service in your area.

  • The Gumtree free ads site has an extensive Property To Rent section in most cities I think. I assume most of the ads there are posted by landlords rather than agents (no direct experience; I do know someone who has used the site to rent out a property without involving an agent though). – timday Jan 7 '18 at 17:11
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Agencies are employed by landlords to deal with you on their behalf. They do things like:

  • Answer the phone
  • Arrange repairs
  • Print contracts
  • Take your money
  • Place your deposit in a deposit protection scheme

All of this is work the landlord would have to do - why would they employ an agent and then deal with you directly? Even if you could contact them, they are likely to tell you to go back to the agent.

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    Some of the agency's service is finding the tenant in the first place, but even so if a landlord is using an agent they've probably signed a contract that means they have to go through them for any tenancy. – GS - Apologise to Monica Jan 5 '18 at 11:01

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