Make sure your letting agent measures up to approved standards
WITH more and more people renting, the National Approved Letting Scheme advises tenants to exercise caution when selecting a lettings agent.
“You can’t be too careful when choosing your letting agent, and it’s essential to be assured that the agent you’re working with is reputable, trustworthy and accountable.
“Luckily, there are a couple of simple checks you can do to make sure you only get the best possible service,” explains Caroline Pickering, National Approved Letting Scheme (NALS) Chair. 1. Look for the kitemark. Do your homework first – good agents should be part of a licensed scheme, such as NALS – make sure you ask if they belong to one. A simple sign or kitemark will clearly demonstrate the lettings company is committed to providing a high quality service. If the agent claims to be with a scheme, check with the scheme itself as to whether they are registered. 2. Ask around Speak to other landlords and tenants to find out who they work with and who they recommend. If you have a specific agent in mind, ask to speak to some of the tenants or landlords on their books to see if they are satisfied with the service they are receiving. 3. Help when things go wrong Ensure your licensed agent is part of an independent redress scheme. NALS partners with the Property Ombudsman Scheme ( TPOS) to ensure impartiality and early resolution to any issues. This will be invaluable should you have a dispute with your agent and need independent assistance to help resolve the matter. 4. Don’t be swayed by cheap fees We all know, the old adage “you get what you pay for”, and a quality service can often be reassuringly expensive. With this is mind, don’t compromise on your agent because you may regret it in the long term if you have a problem. 5. Don’t be fobbed off Agents should be able to competently answer any questions or concerns. If an agent seems uncomfortable about the questions you ask, or attempts to fob you off, don’t be afraid of walking straight out the door. 6. Safety first Any reputable agent will have copies of safety certificates for potential properties; everything from a Gas Safety Registration (formerly known as CORGI) to an Energy Performance Certificate, so ask to see them to ensure your home meets required standards. 7. Specialist knowledge Try to find out how much specialist knowledge an agent has. Looking for agents which have invested in training can be a good indication. 8. Protect your deposit Ensure your agent has signed up to a mandatory Tenancy Deposit Protection Scheme. Ensure you know which scheme your deposit is with, and who is taking responsibility for setting it up, your agent or landlord. If the agent is holding, check it goes into a separate account.
Since April 6, 2009, the Tenancy Deposit Scheme ( TDS) has only offered deposit protection services to lettings and management firms that are members of industry organisations such as NALS.
It’s also important to check that your deposit money goes into a separate client account to keep your money safe. 9. Read the small print Read any paperwork thoroughly; including the terms and conditions ensuring you fully understand what contractual agreement you are entering into. Ensure you have a clear understanding of responsibilities concerning repairs, and keep your own copy of contracts and inventories. 10. Keep an eye on what’s going on Keep abreast of legislative updates and any changes to responsibilities so you don’t get caught out thinking your agent is taking care of everything, it maybe that you need to action certain elements.
For more advice, visit the NALS website: www.nalscheme.co.uk