In Part 1 of this blog series we discussed what letting agencies do and how to find them, and in Part 2 we talked about how to choose an agent and the process that follows. In this third and final part, we will discuss the various checks that letting agencies often need to carry out on you on behalf of the landlord, as well as highlighting the fees that agencies may charge for certain services they provide.
Letting Agency Check-Ups
One of the mains checks a letting agency may carry out on you is a credit check. This means they will contact a credit reference company and check if you have ever defaulted on any payments such as rent, bills or bank fees. However, the letting agency cannot conduct this credit check without your permission, so they will ask you first. There is usually a fee to be paid for a credit check, but more details on that in the section focused on fees below.
If you have a bad credit history, then all is not lost. It’s possible that the letting agency can offer you a property if you can provide what’s called a ‘guarantor’, who will register as the person who will pay the rent and bills should you not be able to. In the case of young people who may be renting their first property after leaving home and have yet to develop a credit history, then it’s possible that their parents or legal guardian can act as the guarantor.
The letting agency will also check that your stated income is the truth by requesting either payslips or bank statements. You may also be able to provide them with your employment contract as evidence of your income.
Additionally, you may have to provide references from someone you know, such as your employer, to prove you are indeed who you say you are. There is also new legislation that was passed earlier this year which requires letting agents to ask you to prove that you have the right to live in the UK.
Letting Agency Fees
The credit checks that letting agencies carry out cost money, and that fee can be paid by any of the three involved parties (the agency, the landlord or the tenant) depending entirely on the operational structure of the individual letting agency. Some may pay the fee themselves (unlikely), others charge the landlord while others still ask the tenant to pay.
There may be additional fees to pay before moving into a property, as well as other fees once the tenancy agreement had come to an end and needs renewing, or if you are moving out. These kinds of fees vary from agency to agency so simply ask what fees they have which are relevant to you before committing to any contract. The letting agency should then provide you with an itemised list detailing every single possible fee you might have to pay, and the conditions under which the fee is due.
The differences in fees are another good reason to shop around before deciding which letting agency to use. You should also check out Shelter.org for further advice on what kind of fees you can expect and to give you an idea of much you should expect to pay.