Although letting residential property in the UK is subject to complex legislation, many people will be surprised to know that there is currently no formal regulation of letting agents.
This means that anybody can set up as a letting agent at any time– with no knowledge of the law; no experience of how to let properties safely and legitimately; and no understanding of the lettings market in which they operate.
With the property sales market at a virtual standstill, many people are turning to letting and renting instead. And in the current economic climate, they are naturally keen to keep their costs down. However, when it comes to letting, you get what you pay for – and what may appear to be a genuine saving on a low fee can end up costing you significantly more, and cause considerable stress in the process.
Leaders, the UK’s largest privately owned letting specialists, are warning the public to be careful when choosing their letting agent, particularly as so many new ones have sprung up in recent months, offering heavily discounted fees to attract business.
Says Leaders’ managing director, Paul Weller: “Although it is important to be cost conscious, you should never choose your letting agent based on their fees alone. We have lost count of the number of landlords who have come to us with their fingers seriously burned from dealing with agents that simply don’t know what they are doing.”
From valuing the property and setting up the tenancy accurately, to serving the correct notices in the right way and ensuring a smooth handover at the end – every element of the process is crucial. And getting it wrong can have dire consequences; including huge legal expenses, loss of rent, long void periods, loss of tenant’s deposits and serious penalties for not complying with legislation. For tenants it can literally be a matter of life and death if legislation regarding the safety of the property and its contents is not complied with.”
Leaders want the public to be aware of the importance of using an experienced, independent and well established letting agent. That way they can be sure that they are dealing with someone who has a thorough understanding of the complex legislation surrounding letting; an in-depth knowledge of the local letting market; and the ability to look after the needs of a range of clients efficiently and professionally.
“Choosing an agent for their low fee, or because they value your property higher than another agent, is a mistake we have seen too many people make,” says Paul. “We have seen landlords lose thousands in rent because they have not been able to let their property at the rent set by their agent; some have let their property to unreliable tenants who have not been properly referenced; and some have been unable to regain possession of their property because their agent failed to set up the tenancy properly or did not issue the correct notices. In the end, any saving they may have made on the agent’s fee simply paled into insignificance.”
But it’s not all gloom and doom. By choosing an experienced letting specialist, landlords and tenants can have peace of mind and be confident that they are getting the best from their investment or rented home. The lettings market in the areas Leaders cover is currently very buoyant, with strong demand for rental property of all types – from small studio flats to large family homes.
Leaders has been established for 25 years and is a fully bonded member of the Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA) 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 – www.leaders.co.uk