Find out about the fees, checks and complaints procedures involved in renting with a letting agent.
Register with a letting agent
You usually have to register with a letting agent if you want to rent a property through them. You can register with as many as you like.
The letting agent must not charge you for registering or giving you information on properties. It is a criminal offence to do this.
Letting agents advertise homes for rent on property websites and in their office.
A letting agent may also collect rent and arrange for repairs of the property.
If you claim benefits
Tell the agent if you will need to claim benefits, or else you could lose money you have paid in fees and charges.
Check the agent meets professional standards
A letting agent will have agreed to a voluntary code of conduct if it is a member of one of these organisations:
- National Approved Lettings Scheme (NALS)
- Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA)
- UK Association of Letting Agents (UKALA)
- National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA)
Ask questions before you sign the contract
Before you agree to take on a tenancy from a letting agent, make sure you know:
- how much the rent is, when and how often it has to be paid
- what fees and charges you have to pay before you move in, on renewal and at the end of the tenancy
- if your fees will be refunded if you or the landlord decides not to go ahead
- what length of tenancy agreement is on offer - 6 months, 12 months or longer
- if you or your landlord can end the tenancy early using a break clause
Most private tenants sign up to an assured shorthold tenancy.
Get repairs done before you move in
Ask the letting agent to confirm in writing that repairs will be done before you move in. It may be harder to get the work done after you have moved in.
Check if you have to contact the letting agent or the landlord to sort out repairs after you move in.
If you agree an inventory with the agent at the start of your tenancy, it can help to resolve tenancy deposit disputes later.
There will usually be charges to pay before the tenancy can start. Make sure you have set money aside for:
- letting agent fees (for example, to cover the cost of drawing up the contract)
- holding deposit to secure the property while checks are done
- tenancy deposit that should be protected with a deposit protection scheme
The letting agent must display a list of all fees you will have to pay in their office and on their website.
Prepare for letting agent checks
Before you can start your tenancy, a letting agent will run checks to ensure you have the right to rent in the UK and are likely to be a good tenant.
Checks normally include:
- right to rent immigration checks
- a credit check
- checks on your income
- references from your employer or previous landlords
You might be asked for a guarantor if you fail a credit check or are unable to give references. This is someone who agrees to pay the rent for you if you do not.
Allow inspections during your tenancy
Letting agents might carry out inspections of your home during your tenancy to check the condition of the property.
Check your tenancy agreement to see if and when inspections can happen.
The letting agent should give you at least 24 hours’ notice in writing and the visit must be at a reasonable time.
If you can’t make the time, suggest an alternative. It is illegal for them to enter your home without your permission.
You should not be charged for inspections.
Make a complaint
You should complain directly to your letting agent first.
If you're unhappy with the response or you don't get one within 8 weeks, you can contact the agent's redress scheme. Redress schemes investigate complaints against their members.
If your agent is not a member of a redress scheme, you can report this to your council, which may take action against the agent.
Use Shelter's letting agent dispute tool to complain to a letting agent redress scheme
Find out who your landlord is
You have a legal right to know who your landlord is, even if you deal directly with a letting agent.
Last updated 03 Oct 2017 | © Shelter
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