The lettings market in the UK is largely unregulated – in fact, anyone can set up a lettings agency. Any qualifications which are needed to run or work in a letting agency are minimal and no significant grasp of property law is necessary. The rental market is lucrative at the moment, so in the current situation anyone and everyone can try and become involved in the rental boom. This has been causing concerns amongst some housing market experts and the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors. There are worries that some tenants may be being taken for a ride, and in the current housing market increasingly large numbers of people are opting to rent instead of buy so this is a prominent current issue.
A lack of provision of simple important services by lettings agencies is very worrying, as many tenants do not know fully what services their agency should be providing them with, allowing firms the room to cut corners and bend the rules. Some tenants are not being given inventories when moving into their new home. An inventory is incredibly important to reduce risks of a deposit dispute occurring between the landlord and the tenant on the vacation of the property. Not having an inventory can lead to later complications and many tenants do not realise this. Furthermore, many tenants do not realise that their deposit should looked after in a deposit protection scheme.
Ensure that the letting agents you rent from are a member of one of the following trade bodies:-
– Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA)
– National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA)
– Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS)
– UK Association of Letting Agents (UKALA).
This will ensure your money is protected and that you would not lose any money should the firm go out of business. If they are not a member of one of these trade bodies, check if they are a member of a lettings ombudsman scheme. One of the major ombudsman schemes in the UK is The Property Ombudsman Scheme and 65% agents are currently signed up to an ombudsman scheme. Also investigate if your agent adheres to the standards of the National Approved Letting Scheme (NALS).
Ensuring the lettings agency is a member of a trade body, an ombudsman scheme, or adheres to the NALS standards will ensure they have an official complaints procedure in place and that you would be able to receive compensation for any grievances you may have. If they are not, you would not have protection against their malpractice.