The high streets and internet are crammed with letting agents vying for landlord business – and the media headlines scream that many are rogue or cowboy businesses
So how does a landlord know which firm to pick?
The choice is often hard without asking a few questions – so here’s a list and what they should tell you about the letting agent:
’Do you belong to a self-regulating industry scheme?’
The most common are ARLA (Association of Residential Letting Agents), RICS (Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors) and NALS (National Approved Letting Scheme)
Also ask if they belong to an ombudsman scheme and which deposit protection scheme they belong to.
’Do you belong to a client money protection scheme?’
This is most important – All the self-regulating schemes mentioned above run client money protection, as well as SafeAgent.
Don’t forget to ask…
• ‘Does the letting agent have an office?’
• ‘Are they VAT registered?’
• ‘Do they have a data protection registration?’
• ‘Are they university or council accredited?’
Why? You want somewhere to go if you have problems, VAT registration means they are turning over more than £87,000 a year – although rents are VAT free – and letting agents should have data protection registration as they handle personal information about landlords and tenants.
Accreditation means the businesses should have gone through some due diligence. Nevertheless, do your own before parting with any money.
These questions give you some idea of the professionalism of the business.
Check out the answers
Each organisation will give the letting agent a registration number. Just run the details through their web sites or make a call to the organisation – some less reputable letting agents forge the membership details or join to gain a registration number and then stop their subscriptions, so do not rely on web site or letterheads as credentials.
Letting agent charges
Ask the agent how much they charge, but do not buy on price. Ask all the agents the same questions and compare the answers to short list two or three. If they all offer broadly the same services at the same price, go with the agent which answer the phone and deal with your queries the best.
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