Most letting agents will add certain charges and fees for using their services; for instance, check in/out fees, referencing fees, administration fees, etc. Often they will also ask students to pay a sum of money as a ‘Holding Deposit’. This is essentially a bond where the agents will agree to reserve a property for a group whilst the tenancy agreement is arranged. If the group then decides against signing a tenancy agreement then this deposit will usually be forfeited and not returned to you. If an agreement is signed this deposit should be either returned or contribute towards the security deposit of the tenancy.
There is nothing illegitimate in this practice, but nonetheless, we have had contact from students and parents who have reported disputes and problems.
Our best advice to avoid problems is to ask your agent up-front what fees you will be expected to pay and if there are any deposits, and especially to be certain under what conditions this money will be returrned. Always ask for confirmation of this in writing along with a receipt of payment. If you have already paid money and are in dispute we strongly recommend you contact the Advice & Support Centre in the Students' Union for further advice and assistance.