How to find a letting agent
If you’re a landlord or tenant, it’s very likely you’ll need the services of a reliable letting agent at some point. But not all letting agents are the same.
Many consumers aren’t aware of how some agents work to protect landlords and tenants. This week, we talk about how to find a professional letting agent who will put your needs first.
Protecting your money
This year, it became compulsory for all letting agents to protect the money they hold on behalf of tenants and landlords. It’s estimated that letting agents hold around £3billion of client money. From 1 April 2019, all agents need to belong to a government-approved Client Money Protection
(CMP) scheme to safeguard these funds. The insurance scheme pays landlords and tenants back if an agent ‘misappropriates’ the rent, deposit or other client funds.
The new legislation also means letting agents need to prove they are handling clients’ money in the right way by:
1) Holding this money in a separate bank account to their operating funds
2) Having indemnity insurance so the money can be reclaimed if any employees commit fraud.
If you’re a tenant handing over a deposit, the agent must protect your money in one of three government-authorised tenancy deposit protection (TDP) schemes. If the agent doesn’t have CMP or fails to protect a tenant’s deposit, they risk heavy fines.
Townends has been covered by CMP insurance through our membership of the Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA) – now known as ARLA Propertymark – long before it became compulsory.
However, if a letting agent is a member of ARLA Propertymark, landlords and tenants can enjoy further peace of mind as every member maintains the highest standards and commits to ongoing professional development. This includes undertaking regular training courses which keep members up-to-date with the complex legislation in the sector.
Importantly, each letting agent also needs to do the following to qualify for membership:
There are some other membership bodies that provide similar assurances, such as the National Association of Estate Agents (now known as NAEA Propertymark – the sister company of ARLA Propertymark), the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), the UK Association of Letting Agents (UKALA) and SAFEagent.
Check their service levels
Most letting agents offer different levels of service. Generally speaking, this includes the following, but it’s worth going through the options with your chosen agent:
Test their knowledge
There are hundreds of laws that govern the private-rented sector, so it’s well worth testing a letting agent’s knowledge. An agent should be fully aware of the statutory obligations all landlords need to follow if they wish to legally let a property. These include:
Check their working procedures
Outside of laws and regulation, there are a number of best practice procedures a professional letting agent should follow. By working through these processes, the agent is looking after your best interests. These include:
Are they highly rated?
Nowadays, it’s much easier to find personal recommendations from tenants or landlords who have used the services of a letting agent. Google is a great place to start for honest feedback. Also check the agent’s social media channels and AllAgents.
Professional lettings agents should be happy to supply testimonials, or even put you in touch with current clients if you’d like a more detailed conversation. Asking around the area will also help you gauge the agents that are really embedded within their local communities.
Speak to our team…
At Townends, we pride ourselves on offering clients all of the above. If you’re searching for a professional letting agent that puts your needs first, as well as upholding all industry regulation and best practice, speak to one of our experts in branch now.