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Jane Hamilton, property expert
COMPLAINTS against letting agents are on the rise as more Brits live in private rented accommodation.
Official figures show one in five of us now rent privately, with this expected to rise to 24 per cent by 2021.
But many new renters aren’t aware of rules imposed by landlords or their mortgage lenders and are being urged to check their contracts before they sign up and hand over deposit cash.
Choose a good lettings agency who will help steer you through the process.
Phil Keddie, president of agency body ARLA Propertymark, explains: “A good agent will help you find the best property for you and your budget, but if they’re going to be managing the property it’s important to know how responsive they really are.”
Here’s how to ensure you don’t get let down:
Get personal: Ask friends and family to recommend letting firms they have used. If they have had a positive experience, there’s a chance you will, too.
Speak to tenants: When viewing a potential home, ask the current tenants if they’ve had good service.
The same agency will often be managing the property, too, so find out as much as you can.
Know what you should be charged for: From June 1, agents can no longer charge additional fees that are not considered “permitted payments”.
This means lettings agents can only charge for a holding deposit capped at one week’s rent, a refundable tenancy deposit capped at five weeks’ rent, change or early termination of a tenancy, and payments arising from a default, which include late rent payments or replacing keys.
If they do try to charge it’s important you know your rights.
Local knowledge: Pick an agent with a branch close to where you want to live.
They can share key information, such as the cost of council tax and how far the property is from transport links.
Check industry credentials: Letting agents in England are currently unregulated and there is a risk you could come up against a rogue agent.
Use arla.co.uk/find-agent.aspx to find credible agents.
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