Letting agents are important partners for many landlords. A majority of landlords engage with letting agents to find new tenants for their properties, and a significant proportion also contract letting agents to manage their properties.
The Ethical Landlords Association encourages landlords to recognise the importance of the relationships between themselves and the letting agents and, possibly even more importantly, the relationship between the letting agent and the tenant.
Ethical landlords need to check the fees which the letting agent is charging the tenant. Letting agents in England and Wales are required to display those charges prominently in their offices and on their websites. Landlords should question any charges they consider excessive or unreasonable. Examples of this could be charging a tenant for securing their deposit with an approved scheme, or charging a fee for checking them out of the property. If landlords are not happy with the fees being charged, and the letting agent is not willing to change their practice, landlords should seek another letting agent, remembering that landlords have choice in these matters in a way that tenants do not. Landlords should also review a sample tenancy agreement before engaging the agent, to ensure it is clear and fair.
In Scotland it is illegal for letting agents to charge any fees to tenants, and the Westminster government has announced, in the 2016 Autumn Statement, its intention of passing similar legislation in England. The Welsh Assembly has not yet made any indication of intention in relation to this. However, in England and in Wales there are already letting agents who have made the decision for themselves to cease charging fees to tenants, and ELA are keen to hear from such agents, so that we can make them known to our members.
Landlords must also recognise that, in law, they remain responsible for matters which they have delegated to the letting agent. Therefore, they must maintain close contact with the agent, and vigilant about what they are doing on the landlord’s behalf.
A good Letting Agent will promptly provide landlords with copies of all documents and certificates relating to their property, such as:
- Tenancy Agreements
- ‘Required Information’ provided to the tenant about their deposit.
The Letting Agent should also provide, on request, copies of all correspondence between them and the tenant.
This will enable landlords to monitor:
- That the letting agent is carrying out properly all the responsibilities delegated by the landlord
- That the letting agent is addressing the tenant with the courtesy and respect that ethical landlords expect
- The communication and responses the letting agent is receiving from the tenant
In addition, landlords should establish direct contact from time to time between themselves and the tenant – ideally commencing at the start of the tenancy and making contact every three months thereafter, perhaps dropping to every six months during tenancies which last more than a year – to check that the tenant is receiving a prompt and courteous service from the letting agent.
If you are a letting agent who would welcome such a working relationship with landlords, we would be pleased to hear from you via firstname.lastname@example.org Membership of ELA is open to Letting Agents who share our principles and values, and we would welcome your involvement.
Ethical Landlords Association is pleased to be associated with these letting agents
Piper Property is an independent letting agent and property rental company that lets and manages properties in Bristol, Bath, Cardiff and the surrounding areas. Unlike the vast majority of agents they do not charge fees to tenants. This has obvious advantages to tenants, and for landlords it enables Piper Property to let properties quickly and maximise returns. Fees for landlords are completely transparent and fixed, with no hidden extras.