Five signs you need to change your letting agent

Having problems with your letting agents? Sick to the back teeth of a lack of communication? Here are five signs that it’s time to look elsewhere.

 

They don’t listen to your complaints…

Little things such as dodgy kitchen drawers, loose taps and broken doors can be a real pain in the neck after a while, especially if there are several such jobs.

 

Before you move in, seek advice on which repairs are your responsibility. It’s always a good idea to take photographs of the flat/home when you move in to prove that any existing damage was not of your causing.

 

If the landlord or agent makes excuses to put the jobs off, see if they will agree to you paying for the job and then being reimbursed. Do it properly or enlist a professional, otherwise the landlord might justifiably refuse to pay up.

 

…even if they’re serious

There are some emergencies that need immediate attention, and if your landlord or letting agents do not tend to them swiftly, and you’re forced to temporarily move out, then record what happened and start making plans for your exit.

 

Burglaries, gas leaks and electrical faults should be attended as soon as possible. A lack of heating or water should be remedied instantly, and if your tenancy agreement has a clause stating that you need to pay for any structural repairs, then get out before your bank balance collapses alongside the building.

 

There are unfair terms in your tenancy agreements

Some tenancy agreements are inherently unfair and pre-loaded in favour of the landlord or letting agent. Unfortunately, these often contain terms that escape the tenants’ notice as they try to get into the rental property as quickly as possible, and only too late do they realise the implications.

 

These unfair conditions could include high interest rates for unpaid rent, and a provision for unannounced visits from the landlord using the keys. Seek advice from CAB or online if you feel that the conditions are unfair.

 

They don’t use a protected tenancy deposit

Paying a deposit to secure a rental property is commonplace, and all landlords have an obligation to register that deposit with a registered deposit scheme. Tenancy deposit schemes are government-backed services that protect that deposit, in the event of financial change for the landlord or a dispute. The information on that deposit, such as the scheme being used, the protection measures, information on disputes and how to get the money back when you leave the property, must be supplied within 30 days.

 

Therefore, alarm bells should be ringing very early into the tenancy if no scheme has been discussed, or the details have not been disclosed. A good letting agent should inform you early about these conditions.

 

They’ve refused you because you’re on benefits

It is true that some landlords and letting agents don’t take on tenants with housing benefits for various reasons, so it’s certainly worth finding this out before moving too far down the process if this applies to you. Leaving it too late will just frustrate everyone involved, when in actual fact no-one has done anything wrong.

 

However, if you are a tenant whose situation changes - such as in the event of losing your job or partner - and you then find that you need benefits, a landlord or agency is not allowed to remove you because of this as long as the rent is still paid.