It’s estimated that as many as 20% of all homes in England are privately rented.
Here, we’ll explain what a letting agent can do for tenants, how they work and the benefits of renting through one…
What is a letting agent?
A letting agent will manage a rental property on behalf of a landlord and act as a contact point for tenants throughout their time living in the property.
By using a letting agent, a landlord can ensure everything to do with renting their property is taken care of.
How do letting agents work?
Letting agents take on a whole host of work when managing a property for a landlord, including:
• Advertising and marketing the property
• Finding and referencing tenants
• Hosting viewings
• Doing inventories
• Drawing up tenancy agreements
• Collecting and registering tenant deposits
• Collecting rent
• Conducting property inspections
• Dealing with maintenance and emergencies
The benefits of renting through a letting agent
There are a raft of benefits when renting a property through a letting agent – not least the added peace of mind and security of dealing with a professional agent. Here are ten other benefits you’ll enjoy as a tenant…
1. Letting agents are regulated
All letting agents in the UK must be members of a redress scheme by law. That means if you have a complaint about their service and you’ve been unable to resolve it with the agent, you can direct your issue to the scheme and they’ll mediate.
2. Your deposit will be protected
When you rent a property, you’ll pay a security deposit of either five weeks’ rent or six weeks’ rent depending on your annual rent amount.
That deposit must be lodged with one of three tenancy deposit protection schemes within 30 days and you must be told within the same timeframe which scheme your deposit is being held in.
By renting through a letting agent, you’ll have additional peace of mind that your deposit is fully protected for the duration of your tenancy agreement.
3. A legally binding tenancy agreement
By renting through a letting agent, you’ll receive a legally binding and compliant tenancy agreement the protects your interests as well as your landlord’s.
Your letting agent will also have all paperwork and systems in place to get your tenancy set-up quickly and managed efficiently throughout your stay.
4. Health and safety peace of mind
When a letting agent manages a property on behalf of a landlord, their job is to ensure the landlord and their property complies with all the health and safety regulations aimed at keeping you safe.
Your agent will help ensure your landlord is compliant with:
• Gas and electrical safety
• Fire safety and smoke alarm compliance
• Sanitation, plumbing and heating safety
• Maintenance and repair obligations
5. Better choice of properties
With demands on compliance increasing every year, more and more landlords are using letting agents to let and manage their properties.
That means going through an agent will give you a greater choice of properties to rent, as well as professional marketing packs and photographs to look through when deciding whether or not a property is right for you.
6. Accompanied viewings
A good letting agent will accompany you on viewings and help you choose a property that works for you. Here at Parkers, we’re also offering virtual viewings during the pandemic, so we can limit social contact and help you stay safe.
7. Expert local knowledge
Moving to a new area can feel like a journey into the unknown, but by renting through an agent, you can call upon their expert knowledge of the local area and properties available to rent where you want to live.
By speaking to a local letting agent, you’ll be able to get a sound overview of the area you’re moving to – before you commit to a rental property.
8. A property management team
Letting agents have property management teams in place to deal with maintenance and repair concerns – as well as great relationships with reputable local tradespeople and contractors, meaning you can be certain any issues you have will be dealt with quickly and professionally.
9. Great communication
It’s not inevitable that problems with your rental property will occur – but it might happen.
When there is an issue, tenants need to know that the person they contact will deal with the problem – and that peace of mind comes with renting through an agent.
Your letting agent should provide you with full details on who to contact in an emergency, for example a boiler breakdown, and they’ll then arrange for the problem to be rectified, while also liaising with the landlord.
10. Professional service
As well as being members of a redress scheme, letting agents belong to professional bodies like the Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA) and the UK Association of Letting Agents (UKALA).
This means they operate within the rules of those organisations and must run their businesses professionally – meaning you have the peace of mind that your agent will provide a professional service and your money will be safeguarded through the Client Money Protection scheme.
Why do landlords use letting agents?
The main reason landlords use a letting agent to manage their rental property is peace of mind.
For landlords, staying compliant and keeping up to date with new and changing property legislation can be daunting.
A letting agent helps ensure your landlord is compliant and that you’re safe living in their rental property.
They also deal with maintenance issues, collect rent and respond to problems or emergencies at the property.
What do letting agents check when referencing?
When you apply to rent a property through a letting agent, they’ll undertake a series of affordability and suitability checks on behalf of the landlord.
Your letting agent should:
• Perform a credit check through a referencing agency to assess your financial situation, check for bankruptcy and any County Court Judgments (CCJs)
• Contact your employer to confirm your status, job title and income
• Contact your previous landlord, if you have one, for a reference on your suitability as a tenant
• Perform an affordability ‘stress test’ so your landlord can be certain you’re able to afford the monthly rent
• Do a Right to Rent check to confirm you’re legally allowed to rent property in the UK, if you’re from overseas
If you’re thinking of renting and it’s your first time doing so, it can be a daunting process – but our first-time renters’ checklist can help and tells you everything you need to know.
And if you’re moving in with a partner for the first time, it can feel equally as daunting! Our guide outlines everything you should consider and discuss before moving in together.