The accidental landlord and an overzealous agent

Victoria Whitlock digs in her heels when an overzealous agent demands to let her SW9 flat and he won't take no for an answer
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I've got a stalker. He's rung me four times in as many days and he says he won't leave me alone until I agree to his demands. What he wants is permission to market my soon-to-be-vacant flat in SW9.

This guy works for the pushiest and most expensive letting agency on the high street and I've told him every time he's called that there's no way I'd let him market the property because his fees are way too high.

His agency charges a finders' fee of 11 per cent of the first year's rent, plus and here's the part I find hardest to stomach a further nine per cent for every year the tenant remains in the property after the first 12 months.

Also, it forces landlords to use its tenancy agreement at an additional cost of £350 and it refuses to let landlords hold the tenants' deposits.

His agency is the only one I've come across that refuses to lower its fees, even a little bit, preferring instead to bully, cajole or in my case torment landlords into letting them handle their properties.

Like most other letting agencies, this one also charges tenants admin fees, although it doesn't specify the exact amount on its website, which I think is outrageous. Not only this, but it tries its damndest to persuade tenants that it's better to rent properties that are managed by the agent, instead of the landlord.

When I used this agent in the past (out of sheer desperation) it claimed (falsely) that all offers from prospective tenants were on condition it managed my property, even though I'd specified at the start of the lettings process that I would manage the place myself.

At the moment, I'm marketing my flat through another lettings agency, which I negotiated down from 12 per cent commission to eight per cent, and the manager didn't flinch when I struck out the clause in the contract that referred to annual renewal fees.

This more reasonable agent has also agreed to let me use my own tenancy agreement (you can download these from the internet for about three quid) and it says it will let me safeguard the deposit.

Admittedly it has been marketing the property for three weeks now and it has yet to find me a tenant, but it's still early days. Mr Pushy Pants says he's sure he can find me a tenant quicker and has pleaded with me to let the two of them go head to head in a sort of "battle of the agents", but I tell him I'm in no rush, the flat is occupied until September and I'm not prepared to pay his agency's exorbitant fees.

He says he has registered several hundred people looking for onebedroom flats though he's a bit hazy about the precise number and it seems to go up by a few hundred every time he calls.

One thing is for sure, he's short of properties and I wonder when the penny will drop that it's because his fees are too high. Last time he rang he said, and I quote, "I'm not going to give up on this one. I'll get your flat."

Sounded like a threat to me, and I was tempted to point out his calls were verging on harassment, but instead I told him not to ring again unless he was ready to accept my terms eight per cent commission for one year only, I can use my own tenancy agreement and I get to safeguard the tenant's deposit.

Ha, let's see if that puts an end to his calls.

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