7 Questions you should be asking when recruiting an agent

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The property you are letting is more than likely the single most valuable asset which you own. It makes sense therefore before you put this property in the hands of a letting agent to ask the agent a number of pertinent questions before you actually sign a business contract with them. Taken from the Residential Landlords’ Association’s ‘A Simple Guide to being a Landlord’, here are the RLA’s top questions you should be asking your prospective letting agent…

1. Does the agent have a postal address?

Exercise a degree of caution if only a website or PO BOX address is available.

2. Is the agent transparent about their fees?

A reputable agent will tell you all about their fees before you sign their contract. Read their contract carefully and ask any questions beforehand.

3. How many years has the business been established?

Avoid the “here today gone tomorrow” agent because those agents may disappear with your money. A minimum of two years in business is recommended. Check the history of the company using the Companies House website.

4. Have the agent’s staff attended a lettings training course in the last two years?

By doing this their staff will keep up-to-date with all the changes in legislation. This will be the case if they hold membership of ARLA, NAEA or RICS (see below).  Research staff qualifications and experience by looking for their profiles on the website, or by searching for them on LinkedIn.  

5. Is the agent a member of a professional body?

There is no legal requirement for letting agents to be trained, approved, or licensed. So agencies which hold membership of professional bodies such as ARLA, NAEA or RICS are a much safer option for landlords. Agents must meet strict professional standards to gain membership, and adhere to them in order to keep it.

6. Is the agent displaying a “Safe Agent” logo?

If so, this will indicate the agent has a separate bank account for their clients’ money, and that it is protected by client money protection insurance.

7. Does the agent belong to a “redress scheme”?

From 1st October 2014, letting and managing agents must become a member of one of the three redress schemes. They provide free and impartial dispute resolution between members of the public and letting agents. The schemes are:

- The Property Ombudsman

- Ombudsman Services Property

- Property Redress Scheme

For more information, read the RLA’s guide to redress schemes – click here.

The Residential Landlords Association’s ‘A Simple Guide for being a Landlord’ provides a simple and straight forward guidance for the millions of landlords who let accommodation in the Private Rented Sector (PRS). The guide covers the following topics:

  • Points to remember before letting a property
  • Tenancy agreements
  • Once the tenant has been moved in...
  • Ending the tenancy
  • A landlord's obligations

Download your free copy of the guide today, courtesy of the Residential Landlords Association – click here.

Posted by on 4 December 2014

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