Dont Fall Foul Of Feral Agents

19th April 2013

Landlords and tenants don’t agree about much, but on one issue they are united: both really hate letting agents, while for their part, some letting agents just don’t care.

The latest census figures suggest that a combination of spiralling house prices, a rising population, a lack of house building plus easy credit and tax advantages for landlords will force many young people to spend their lives renting privately.

Landlords engage letting agents to manage their property, but many services, like tenant referencing, inventories and “finding”, are now sub-contracted to another growth area: self-proclaimed specialist firms that charge exorbitant fees for these services when they used to be free, or the agent charged the landlord.

Tenants and landlords alike need to beware. Landlords should read the small print in their agreement with the agent and tenants should always read their tenancy agreement way in advance of moving in so agents can’t insert last minute dodgy clauses at the last gasp which tenants then can’t strike out lest they lose their next home.

Most landlords expect referencing to be done on their prospective tenants – they should ask their agent though if theses references are undertaken independently of the agent if indeed they are done at all. Why should a tenant pay a check out fee? If an agent is managing a property surely this is something that should be taken account of in the overall management, as should routine inspections. Watch out for agents who insist on shorter term tenancies benefiting financially from every new occupation, charging repeatedly for standard documents.

Landlords must be careful that any statutory checks undertaken on your behalf such as the Gas Safety Certificate are actually done and the tenant has a copy of the certificate. Whilst electrical inspections are not mandatory to protect yourself ensure the agent has arranged this for you if you do not have one already. Tenants should be asking these questions prior to signing to ensure where they are moving to is at least safe!

There are new regulations surrounding the registering of deposits – a tenant should be issued with a certificate with 30 days of paying a deposit to show who holds the deposit and who has registered it. Without this your money may be used to finance an agent’s cash flow!

Both landlords and tenants should shop around and find an agent who is regulated by a professional body and one they trust to deliver a great service.

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