Landlords warned on rogue estate agents

Landlords should beware of third-rate letting agents, warns risk consultants Leaseguard.

Mairi Scott, managing director of Leaseguard, says: Too many landlords get caught out by thinking they can just appoint a letting agent, hand over the keys, then sit back and wait for the money to roll in. Others put a postcard in a newsagents window, and then accept the first tenant who agrees to pay the rent they are quoting.

“Every year many small landlords get their fingers badly burned by letting agents who are inefficient or unprofessional or by plausible-seeming tenants who fail to pay their rent.

“Choose the wrong agent and your problems can pile up faster than junk mail in a vacant apartments letterbox. If your agent fails to find reliable tenants you could face months with no rental income, leaving you struggling to pay the mortgage on the empty premises.”

He adds: “Even when a tenant is found, disputes over tenants deposits can lead to legal costs as landlords take action against the agent and/or the tenant to recoup loss of rent or the cost of repairing damage to the premises. Landlords could face court appearances, fines or other actions if they do not comply with housing regulation.

“However, there are many good agents out there to find one you must check the quality of their service by asking the right questions including are they a member of a recognised industry body? How long have they been in business?
Are they up to date on legislation affecting landlords? Do they have professional indemnity insurance? And what are their fees?”