In Part 1 of this blog series we discussed what letting agents actually do as well as where and how to find them. In this second part we will focus on how to choose a letting agent and also the process that follows once you have identified the letting agency you want to use.
How to Choose a Letting Agent
Obviously the first thing you need to do is identify the various letting agents that operate in the area or areas where you want to rent a property. Then, once you know of all the potential agencies in the area (Google helps a lot, by the way), you should check that they are registered with one of the UK’s professional letting agent organisations, which ensures that the agency adheres to a voluntary code of conduct and the professional standards demanded by that professional body.
Below is a list of the four professional organisations that a letting agency in the UK should be registered with at least one of:
- National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA)
- Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA)
- National Approved Lettings Scheme (NALS)
- UK Association of Letting Agents (UKALA)
You can check their database of registered letting agencies on each of their websites.
Registering with a Letting Agent
Usually, a letting agency will require you to register with them before they begin offering you properties. However, there is no rule demanding that you only register with one at a time so register with as many as you like to see what kind of properties and deals they can offer you. Also, there should not be any fee involved in registering, nor should they charge you for simply showing you properties, as technically doing so is against the law. Any agency doing that is unlikely to be registered with any of the professional bodies listed above. And if they are registered with any of them then they won’t be for long after you report them.
Be Up Front About Your Financial Circumstances
This is very important if you plan on paying either all or a part of the rent with housing benefit. There are quite a few landlords who do not accept tenants paying with housing benefit, so make sure not to waste everybody’s time by hiding that fact until the last moment. By failing to disclose this at the beginning, you may also incur fees which will still be payable even if your application for a property is refused by the landlord.
In Part 3 of this blog series, we will talk more about the various fees that letting agents can charge and also go into more detail with regards the check-ups that letting agencies must carry out on behalf of the landlord.