Letting Agents - what they do for tenants
When you are looking to rent a home, whether it is just a room you want, or a house or flat, there are many sources you can consult for information on available places. Your local newspapers should carry some classified advertisements on places to let, as will some specialised publications; there's also word of mouth from friends and relatives, and notice boards. To save time, you can visit a letting agency.
Letting agencies are usually listed in the Yellow Pages, in the local papers, or in listings of citizen's advice bureaus. They may be classified as accommodation agencies (which means their job is mainly to find tenants for properties) or as letting agencies (which means they also manage properties and provide services for landlords). There also are estate agents with separate lettings departments. In all these cases, the lettings agencies act for and on behalf of the landlord that owns the property.
Most letting agents also advertise on property portals such as Right Move so that you can easily search for best property to rent.
You will have to register with the letting agency before they provide you information on accommodation. You are not supposed to pay anything to register or to receive addresses or other information; it constitutes a criminal offence for an agency to do that. Fees are due for the landlord only when the agency finds a place for you. To facilitate your search, you may sign up with many letting agencies at the same time. You need to give them an idea of the accommodation you prefer and your budget.
Very often, the role of letting agencies involves the following:
- Help look for a tenant for the landlord's property;
- Collect the monthly rent;
- Act as property manager for the landlord;
- Arrange necessary repairs;
- Arrange inventory checks;
- Provide the tenancy agreements.
You should ask the letting agency what they do for the landlord so you know whom to ask about your concerns. In many instances, the tenant will be dealing only with the letting agency all the time. You also need to know other details such as the terms in the tenancy agreements, the duration of the tenancy, how much you need to pay prior to moving in, and the rental rate.
The letting agency may require a holding deposit on property that you've chosen. This is for the period while they're checking your references, which generally would be your employer, your bank or, if you're coming from another rented place, your previous landlord. The holding deposit will be deducted from amounts that you are required to pay in advance.
If you choose not to proceed, you're likely to lose the holding deposit. If you do decide to move in, you will need to pay the first month's rent in advance plus another month's rent as deposit. That is the usual, but there are instances when the required advance may be greater, as when the value of the property is high or the letting period is of long duration.
Before you move in, make sure the letting agency has arranged for an inventory to be taken. They may engage an independent firm for this or they may have staff for the purpose. You will need the inventory report to know exactly what things you will find in the property and their current condition. This is important to you as it establishes responsibility for the condition of the property; it could serve as a reference when your tenancy ends and you're seeking to recover your deposit.
Don't forget to ask for a gas safety certificate, which is a legal requirement for landlords to hold for the gas appliances in their property: there have been many tragic incidents involving poorly maintained gas fittings and appliances.
When you are occupying the property, the letting agency will conduct quarterly inspections as part of their management of the property. They have the right to do these inspections, but they should arrange the schedule with you so that you or your authorised representative will be around to witness the inspection.©MoneyHighStreet.com