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Salary Questions During Negotiation

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961 views 1 replies latest reply: 23 April 2015
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Tenant

I have recently completed a house search and I’m interested to know: Is it legal/correct for an Agent to request tenants salary before an offer has been accepted?

During the process I placed an offer on a house and as part of the offer I was asked my Job Title and Salary. Naively I gave them my salary and an offer of asking price. Within the hour the Agent had increased the asking price online which I found very suspicious given I had just given them my salary and a more than acceptable offer.

I personally found the questions regarding my salary very intrusive and irrelevant. I was told it was ‘standard practice’ (doesn’t mean it’s right!). I questioned the purpose of knowing my salary during negotiation when I was paying around £75+VAT for a credit check post-acceptance anyway. I refused to play games with this Agent and withdrew our offer. Not unsurprisingly the property is still on the market at the increased price.

On finding a second house I refused to give my salary. They told me they required my salary to prove ‘affordability’ which was 30x monthly rent. I told them that as individuals we each meet that criteria meaning our combined salary was at least 60x monthly rent but they still requested an exact figure. I was put through to the manager who understood my frustration and accepted my response of ‘we both earn at least £XXk’. I thought this was reasonable but still a little unfair as I would be provingding them a holding deposit and expensive credit check on acceptance of our offer anyway.

I really can’t believe it’s acceptable for an agency to request salary details at negotiation stage. Is there an ombudsmen that controls this sort of behaviour?

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Administrator

Hi Robert

As far as I know there are no set rules on this process. However, that ‘standard practice’ line is often used to try and stop a query in its tracks and doesn’t mean you can’t challenge it – as you did. In my personal experience I have not had to hand over salary details at the offer stage. The offer is normally accepted ‘subject to financial checks’ so it’s at that point that your ability to afford the property is established. Besides, people could lie about salary so there’s no away an offer would be accepted on the basis of it.

There is a Property Ombudsman and you can also complain about an agent to an industry body that they’re a member of – such as the Association of Residential Letting Agents as these have codes of conduct that cover fairness and professionalism. 

I wonder whether there might be something about unfair treatment of a consumer in there too but I’m not a lawyer. Citizen’s Advice has some info on this here.

Alex

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