Ben and I write a bit here about dodgy letting agents, as a warning to landlords and tenants and to highlight the problems that there are.
However we are not saying that ALL letting agents are like this. Far from it! There are many, many, excellent agents who do a brilliant job looking after both landlords and tenants.
The trouble is, if you are a landlord looking for someone to look after your property, or if you are a tenant looking for somewhere to live – how to you tell which is which?
So this post is to try to set out some signs by which you can spot the good firms.
How to spot a good letting agent
Are they regulated?
The main organisations are:
- The Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA)
- The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS)
- The National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA)
- The National Approved Letting Scheme (NALS)
- The Property Ombudsman (TPOS)
Do they have client money protection?
There is a new scheme called SAFEagent whose members are entitled to display the Safeagent logo (see right).
It is very popular with the reputable agents. You should be suspicious of any agent which is not a member of this scheme, or one of the regulatory bodies mentioned above.
Are their staff knowledgable?
Reputable agents will ensure that their staff are properly trained and generally they will have industry qualifications, such as those provided by ARLA.
How long has the company been trading?
If they have been in the area a long time this is a good sign. Dodgy agents tend to come and go.
Although this is not to say that a start up agency is necessarily bad, all good agencies have to start sometime. But longevity is a good sign.
What are their agency fees?
Be suspicious if they are very cheap. What expenses are they cutting down on? It may be staff training and professional indemnity insurance premiums.
Those are my suggestions. But I would be very interested to know what your suggestions and pointers are.