Due to the current financial climate in the UK more people than ever are choosing to rent properties rather than buy. Whilst most letting agents are genuine and will do a grand job of finding you a home at a reasonable cost, others are looking to take away your hard earned money for products and services that simply aren’t up to standard or do not exist.
UK letting agents are not strictly regulated in the same way as estate agents, the main difference being the 1979 Estate Agent Act. The government are working towards tighter regulations but tenants are calling for more action to be taken to protect them from cons and scams associated with the letting market.
Fortunately there are a few simple steps you can take in order to protect yourself from rouge agents, the first is to make sure they are part of a recognized professional body. If a firm is part of the Association of Residential Letting Agents or a similar professional organization they are more likely to be qualified and experienced in the role they are being asked to carry out.
In 2012 Mark Prisk announced letting agents had to join up to a redress scheme during a change to take place in the following year. These redress schemes are in place to offer tenants and landlords a clear path to push complaints regarding third party letting agents, the most commonly known schemes are the Surveyors Ombudsman Scheme and Property Ombudsman.
Agents may be required to apologize to tenants and even pay back compensation under new regulations if a complaint is upheld. Breaching a code of practice or legislation could lead to removal from the approved redress scheme meaning they could no longer trade as letting agents.
When choosing a letting agent it is advisable to select one who is part of a client money protection scheme, agents belonging to such schemes should usually have a SAFE mark or some indicator on their websites. If your letting agent is a member of Safe Agent, you can be assured your money is not being misused and your deposit is protected.
Once you have researched and chosen a suitable property it is advisable to have everything you need to sign up handy, letting agents have been known to take unnecessary payments upfront for people to grantee themselves the rental contracts they want in advance. Do not be pressured into paying these so-called fees or fall for any other hidden charges.
Some more devious agents will not disclose the total price of the agreement upfront, this makes it difficult to compare prices and ultimately ends up costing you more money as a result. Always ask about added costs and read the terms and conditions including small print fully before signing anything. The only fees a tenant will occur in most genuine cases are a month’s rent as deposit and a fee for credit/reference checks.
According to statistics 20% of tenants in the UK feel dissatisfied with their agents and can freely voice their opinions on sites such as Meet My Agent, UK Letting Agents Directory or All Agents. If you think it may be too late and you may have been a victim of an abusive rental contract you can call one of our friendly team at CPC Worldwide on 01913862487.