At The Tenants’ Voice we are building an online community of tenants, agents and service providers looking to make the renting sector a better place. Part of this is sharing the experiences we have had – our forums are busy with questions and queries from tenants who need help advice. One of the themes of the forums has been finding great landlords and letting agents who can take the hassle out of the renting process. With that in mind we’ve put together a few tips – the early warning signs for spotting the kind of agents and landlords we all want to avoid.
Inventory. Your landlord advises you not to worry about the inventory when you move in, they’re sure you won’t damage anything. This is a sign of a landlord who either doesn’t understand the role that inventories play in deposit disputes or who is trying to avoid you discovering issues such as mould, broken fittings or poor interiors because they want to try and charge you for them when you move out.
Access. You’re told by the landlord they will “pop in” every now and again to check on the property. Be wary of the landlord who doesn’t understand that they must give you 24 hours notice and cannot just let themselves in.
Safety. Your landlord’s response to a question about Gas Safety Certificates is “what’s that?” Avoid landlords who don’t understand their safety obligations.
Maintenance. “I’m happy for you to do anything you want to the interiors,” says the landlord. Translation: “I’m not going to decorate so it’s up to you.”
Deposit. When you ask the landlord what scheme the deposit will be held in the landlord tells you that there’s no need to protect the deposit, it just makes everything complicated. It is a legal requirement for landlords to protect your deposit and the most basic landlord obligation – if they are trying to dodge this then you can guarantee that repairs, maintenance and move in and out will be a nightmare too.
Landlord. The agent tells you that they can’t give you the contact details for the landlord and you must deal with them only. Yes, the landlord is paying the agent to manage the property so they don’t want you calling them night and day but you have a right to make direct contact with the landlord if you want to, particularly if you feel the agent is being obstructive.
Fees. The agent’s fees are nowhere to be seen on the website and they won’t confirm them until you’re already involved in the process. The Advertising Standards Authority has made it clear that agents must display fees in any advertising or publicity material.
Contact. You can’t even get hold of the agent to make an appointment to view a property despite calling three times an hour.
Industry. When you ask about industry memberships such, as the Property Ombudsman or the Association of Residential Letting Agents – or client money protection – you’re met with a blank look. Professional agents sign up to these schemes.
Of course if you really want to find a fantastic agent then The Tenants’ Voice Vetted Agents database is the best way to do it. We independently vet our agents for professionalism, awareness and transparency to make sure tenants get the best possible service.