Identifying A Rogue Lettings Agent : 7 Essential Questions

As we have mentioned in several recent blogs, the private lettings market is booming, a trend which is expected to continue for the foreseeable future.  That growth is not without its problems, however.  The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) recently compared the private rental property sector to the ‘Wild West’ due to the plethora of unethical lettings agents attempting to take advantage of a buoyant industry.

Lettings agents, unlike estate agents, are unregulated so selecting the right agent to work with is often a proverbial minefield, especially for property owners new to the private rental market.

If you are evaluating your options with lettings agents, the following questions will help you in your assessment.

What is their background? Do they have a proven track record in the lettings sector? Do other landlords vouch for their levels of service? Will they provide recommendations? A reputable lettings agent will happily provide you with client testimonials.

Does the agent operate from a professional office or provide you only with a mobile contact number?  Rogue agents will often offer cheap deals claiming an office is not necessary as it only increases landlord costs.  At Redstones, we encourage landlords to visit us at our offices both for reassurance and to experience our superlative customer service for yourself.

Are tenants’ deposits protected?  Failure to do so means that the tenant can claim compensation from you as a landlord at the end of the tenancy agreement if their deposit is not returned.  Redstones complies with the DPS (Deposit Protection Service) and TPO (The Property Ombudsman).

What arrangements are in place if a tenant misses a rental payment?  Will you be notified of any problems? Rogue agents have been known to collect payments from their tenants while advising landlords they have not been received.  For your added peace of mind Redstones offers its Platinum Total Care Service which guarantees that your rent is paid on time every month, regardless of whether or not a payment has been made by the tenant.

What does ‘fully managed’ mean when it comes to a lettings agreement?  At Redstones, fully managed means – among other things – accompanied viewings, regular landlord reports on the property and notification of any problem with a tenant immediately the situation arises.

What background checks are carried out on potential tenants?  The omission of crucial background checks may lead to problems further down the line.

Are they members of ARLA (Association of Residential Letting Agents)? ARLA is a voluntary body which sets out a required code of conduct which all of its members must adhere to. For your peace of mind, Redstones is a member of ARLA and NAEA (National Association of Estate Agents).

Recent developments

The government has announced that, in the future, it will be mandatory for all lettings agents to join an independent redress scheme. This scheme will possess the power to order rogue agents to compensate landlords and tenants for their wrong doings up to a maximum amount of £25,000. At the same time, unscrupulous agents may be banned from working in the sector. At present, however, this scheme has yet to be introduced.

If you are concerned that you may be working with an unethical lettings agent or unhappy with the service you are currently receiving, we offer a Switch Agents programme which takes our clients through the necessary steps to transfer their property management to Redstones.

For more information, you may find our article on the 6 Signs Of A Reputable Lettings Agent helpful in evaluating your choice of lettings agent.

You can also contact Redstones to discuss how we can help you with letting your property.   We look forward to hearing from you.