How to find a good landlord
3:10pm Tuesday 10th April 2012
The Association of Residential Lettings Agents is asking would-be tenants to consult professional lettings agents like ARLA members so they avoid the risk of rogue landlords and minimise trouble ahead.
ARLA’s appeal follows news in the 2011 Annual Property Ombudsman Report that complaints in the private rental sector rose last year.
“As an organisation that strives to achieve the best possible standards within the private rented sector, we are disappointed to see a rise in lettings complaints over the past year,” said Ian Potter, ARLA operations manager.
“It comes as very little surprise given there is no national regulation in place to stop rogue agents setting up shop and taking advantage of what is a fragile market – 26 per cent of complaints were against agents who did not belong to an Ombudsman scheme.”
Mr Potter said ARLA has been calling on the Government to increase regulation in the rental sector. He encouraged prospective tenants to ensure the agent they enter into agreement with is a member of The Property Ombudsman Scheme, which provides an extra layer of protection.
More advice comes from The National Landlords Association (NLA) on what a tenant should look for in a landlord so they have a good relationship from the start. It says tenants should: n Ask if the landlord is a member of a professional organisation like the NLA. This shows they are aware of their obligations as a landlord and understand the regulations relating to the letting of private-residential property.
- Make sure the landlord provides a proper Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST) agreement that both parties sign. This is the contractual agreement outlining the length of the tenancy, the amount of rent, when it is to be paid, any deposit details, and the obligations of both parties. - Check any deposit is protected. Landlords are required to protect their tenant’s deposit with a government-authorised scheme such as mydeposits and inform the tenant that they have done so. If there is a dispute over the return of the deposit, the scheme will help resolve it.
- Ensure the landlord provides an inventory, detailing furnishings within the property and their condition. Both parties should agree to its contents and sign it.
- Ask for a gas safety record to show that all gas appliances provided by the landlord have been checked within the past 12 months. Landlords are required to have a gas safety check carried out annually by a registered engineer.
- Read the property’s Energy Performance Certificate (EPC). This must be provided by the landlord for most lettings and can help when budgeting for energy bills.
- If urgent repairs are needed to the property, ensure that the landlord is notified as soon as possible. Problems should be fixed within a reasonable time.