Using a letting agent to help you find rented accommodation is becoming increasingly necessary these days, as over 50% of all privately rented properties in the UK are handled by letting agents. The good news is that they usually make the process a lot easier for the tenants and landlords they provide the service for.
What Letting Agents Do
A letting agent is simply a business model that handles all kinds of properties from houses to flats to commercial buildings. For their fees they help find tenants for people who want to let, and landlords for people who want to rent. Many landlords also take advantage of the services they offer by not only employing them to find suitable tenants but even look after the maintenance of the property being rented out. In a lot of cases, letting agents take care of everything that the landlord would usually be tasked with by drawing up the tenancy agreements and even collecting the rent.
When you find a property to rent via a letting agent, you can usually expect them to take care of any repairs and maintenance that the property requires, though do check in advance if this is the case as there are various levels of involvement that a landlord can hire a letting agency for. It may be that the landlord simply hires the agency to find good tenants and then takes care of everything else herself, or it maybe that the letting agency is the one that handles everything – often the case when the landlord is a busy person or lives far away from the rented property.
It’s actually possible for a tenant to never actually meet their official landlord if the letting agency is tasked with taking care of everything. However, they must inform of you the landlord’s name and address within 21 days if you write to them and request that information.
Where to Find Letting Agents
There are different kinds of letting agency, including national chains with offices all over the country and individual agencies that have just the one or two premises and look after a much smaller portfolio of properties. Standard estate agents usually also operate as letting agents, so you should see any number of examples during a walk along any high street in town. You can also search online for letting agents in your area.
Letting agencies advertise their available properties in the windows of their premises, as well as in local newspapers and online. They make most of their money from landlords so it’s in their best interests to find good tenants as soon as possible, though they can also charge fees to the tenants for a variety of services so do check with them before committing to anything. Services they may charge tenants for are credit checks and tenancy agreements, though not necessarily. Just ask about the fees involved before signing anything if they haven’t mentioned them already. We’ll discuss the fees in more detail in Part 3 of this blog series.
Also make sure you don’t settle for the first letting agent you come across, as others may have better deals or access to better properties. We’ll talk more about how to choose the best letting agent for you in Part 2 of this blog series.