The decision you make to become a tenant is unlikely to be made driving behind a bus looking at a glossy advert about a letting agent. It is more likely to be made as a result of an occurrence such as moving away from your family home into you own 1st home (student or employed); separating; meeting a new partner; a new job out of travel distance and need to move fast; needing a larger property; want to reduce spending on your current home plus many more reasons.
Landlords and agents will insist on carefully checking the financial background of prospective tenants and will ask for various references from current and former landlords plus employers. They may even ask to see your current home. Landlords and agents are understandably trying to avoid letting to tenants who may or will default on rent and not look after the property.
- Do you check if the landlord or agent and landlord you are considering renting from are solvent?
- Do you ask them how they will handle maintenance issues that may arise during a tenancy?
- Do you ask them to confirm what frequency they will visit the property for inspections?
- Do you feel that it is your right to be able to ask these questions?
In my 13 years of experience letting over 6,000 properties not once have I heard anyone ask any of these questions.
Most complaints that tenants make relate to landlords not repairing something they have a duty to maintain. All too often a small number of landlords will leave tenants waiting for weeks without a functioning boiler.
What can you do to avoid dealing with a landlord or agent and landlord that is happy to take money from you and ignores the rules? My recommendation is only deal with private landlords who are part of a voluntary accreditation scheme such as the National Landlords Association. If you are renting through a letting agency then only deal with one that is a member of Safeagent or ARLA (Association of Residential Letting Agents). This will mean that your money the agent holds is protected and you will have access to the Property Ombudsman complaints and redress scheme.
If you are considering using an agent that isn’t ARLA Licensed or a member of Safeagent think again – would you buy a holiday from a travel agent who is not a member of ABTA or IATA? If the agent or landlord doesn’t like being asked these questions I suggest it is time to find another.
This article was prepared and written by Terry Lucking owner of Belvoir Lettings Agents Cambridge and Peterborough. Terry business offers free advice to prospective tenants and landlords plus those considering buying to let.