Choosing a Professional Letting Agent

May 19, 2014

It’s not just tenants who need to beware of choosing the wrong letting agent – landlords can be vulnerable as well …

With an estimated 1.4 million private landlords in the UK, [1], we believe that its vital that landlords protect both their money and their property by partnering with a professional agency.  That means an agency that has the consumer protection in place and will deliver a professional, value-for-money service.

Managing Director of Northwood, Eric Walker, says that landlords should ask a number of questions before entering into any agreement, and gives the following five tips to ensure a successful commercial relationship:

Check websites which can signpost you to a letting agent who follows a set of standards to ensure your money is protected:

This really can be a quick and easy job.  There are a number of websites that you can check which signpost you to letting agents which meet a certain set of standards and who subscribe to a Client Money Protection Scheme, such as SAFEagent, NALS, ARLA to name a few.  That means your money is safeguarded.

Ensure your letting agents protects your tenant’s deposit:

A number of landlords still seem to be unaware that it is a legal requirement for letting agents (and landlords) to put their tenants’ deposits in a tenancy despoit scheme within 30 days of the tenants moving into the property.

If you have instructed a letting agent to collect your tenants’ deposit on your behalf, then you are still legally responsible for the deposit and its return to the tenant, if they are entitled to it. Unfortunately, this means if your agent absconds or ceases trading, then you are still liable by law for the return of the deposit to the tenant, which is why we strongly recommend you use a reputable agent who has client money protection in place.

Don’t be caught out by hidden fees:

Be sure to check the small print and ensure you have a full list of fees that the letting agent will charge you. Fees can vary, depending on what level of service you are asking for but make sure you ask to be consulted before any additional charges are applied.

Check the letting agent’s online presence:

Before using a letting agent make sure their website is of a reasonable quality with plenty of properties listed.  If they are a professional agent, they will want to have a website which reflects this.

Furthermore, look at review sites such as AllAgents or MeetmyAgent as these can help you learn more about other landlords’, and tenants’ experiences of that letting agent.  However, it is important to take these reviews with a pinch of salt and build up an overall picture, not rely on one or two reviews – but they will help to give you a steer.

Check to see that the agent is contactable, transparent, and accountable on social media too!

Is the property fit to rent?:

Ask a potential agent to confirm what safety checks they will be doing on the property – this will obviously directly correlate to the level of service that you sign up for.  For example, a Gas Safety Check has to be conducted annually, to ensure the property is safe for the tenants, and then a Gas Safety certificate must be produced [it is against the law to not provide one].  Therefore it is essential to ensure that these and other compulsory checks are being carried out.”

Watch our video with Nick Harris of Northwood  for further insights of how to choose a reputable lettings agent:

Northwood’s “How to Choose a Professional Letting Agent checklist” highlights the above and other key questions to ask in determining an agent’s professional stature.

*DOWNLOAD our free checklist:  How to find a professional letting agent*

Northwood is an established, widely recognised estate agent in the U.K. and the leading supplier of Guaranteed Rent . Northwood is proud to deliver a professional service to all of their customers regardless of whether they are a landlord, tenant, buyer or seller.

Find us on Twitter @northwoodUK or visit our YouTube Channel.

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