Unless particularly knowledgeable about property services, the majority of people are unaware of the intricacies of residential property lettings, and of the importance of using an experienced, qualified and independent letting specialist when renting or letting a property.
According to Leaders – one of the UK’s largest independently owned letting agents – this is a concern, particularly in the difficult sales market where more people are renting and letting property and many new lettings services are springing up as a result.
Says Paul Weller, Leaders’ managing director: “When you use the letting service of an agent, you entrust them to do more than simply find you a home to rent or a tenant for your property.
“You rely on them to take care of a number of critical issues, including ensuring the tenants’ safety in the property; legal compliance; care and maintenance of the property; protection of landlords’ and tenants’ rights; smooth-running of the tenancy; and reliable provision of accurate, up-to-date and impartial advice on the many aspects of renting or letting.
“With all this in mind, we are urging the public to choose an agent that is a qualified and experienced specialist who knows everything there is to know about lettings, rather than someone new to lettings with minimal experience and no qualifications.”
Leaders are concerned about the quality of service being offered to unwitting landlords and tenants by the increasing number of inexperienced agents providing lettings services.
Says Paul: “Now, more than ever, it is important for landlords and tenants to choose their letting agent carefully; this is not the time to be cutting corners or taking risks. The effects of the credit crunch mean that even tenants who would normally be considered extremely creditworthy, for example, employees of investment banks, may get into difficulty or lose their jobs. It is in times like this that experience is paramount, to safeguard your investment and ensure that any potential problems are kept to a minimum.”
To be on the safe side, Leaders advise landlords and tenants to only consider an experienced letting agent that is a member of a relevant professional body such as ARLA or RICS. ARLA membership shows that the agent has been practising lettings for at least two years and has at least one ARLA-qualified member of staff.
There are six key questions you should always ask a letting agent before deciding whether to rent or let through them. And the answer to all six should be YES:
1 – Are you a member of a professional body?
2 – Do you maintain separate client accounts?
3 – Are you bonded?
4 – Do you hold professional indemnity insurance?
5 – Are your staff qualified?
6 – Are you a member of a tenancy deposit protection scheme?
Says Paul: “As well as being able to answer yes to all the above, your chosen letting agent should ideally specialise in lettings, with many years of experience in the industry and an excellent local reputation. The staff should have a thorough understanding of your local market and most importantly, they should be completely impartial. We strongly advise landlords never to take rental advice from an agent who is selling you a buy-to-let property.”
Established in 1983, Leaders is one of the UK’s largest independently owned letting specialists. They have built their reputation on providing a friendly, reliable and professional service and as a result remain the first choice for thousands of landlords and tenants across the South East.