There are quite a few people renting property for the first time, and inevitably, there are rogue letting agents setting up shop to take their money.
If you are new to landlording, you should be VERY careful when choosing an agent. Particularly if the rented property is not local to you so you won’t be able to keep a eye on it.
Remember your property is a very valuable investment. You need to be sure it is in good hands.
Here are the five tips
1. Check the staff – are the friendly and helpful? Do they have professional qualifications?
2. Be wary if the fees are noticeably lower than those of similar firms – this may be because they are cutting costs and using unqualified staff
3. Ask to speak to some of their current landlords, and/or seek advice from any local landlords you may know – this is a good reason to join a landlords association
4. On balance the longer established firms are more likely to be reliable and do a good job than firms which have very recently set up. The new firm may be all right, but longevity is a good sign
5. Most important of all – make sure that they are regulated by one of the following professional organizations:
- The Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA)
- The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS)
- The National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA)
- The National Approved Letting Scheme (NALS)
- Or are a firm of solicitors regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority
If you use a regulated firm you are generally protected from the worst problems which can occur, as these firms are required to have client money protection, and abide by a professional code of conduct.
Unless you know the firm really well, it is just not worth the risk using a firm which is not regulated by one of these organizations.
Mind you, you may not actually need to use an agent. Have a look at our New Landlords Guide and see whether managing your properties yourself is an option for you.