Assured Shorthold Tenancy Agreement




 




Tenancy Agreement Template

Proving information &
advice for all buy to let
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Letting Agents

Landlords can find their own tenants and manage their lets. Other prefer to appoint letting agents to do some or all of this work.

On the one hand, this provides convenience and, hopefully, know-how. On the other, it eats up some of the rental income and, unless due care is taking in appointing an agent and checking the agency agreement in some detail, it can prove risky – letting agents can and do go bankrupt or simply abscond leaving money owed to their landlord clients.

In law an agent acts on behalf of the principal (you) and can make binding agreements.

But having an agent does not absolve a landlord of responsibility. So landlords should be extremely cautious about who they appoint as their agents.

The problem is that anybody can currently set themselves up as a letting agent – even if he or she has no proper training, no knowledge of the market, and no financial savvy. The Labour government of 2005-10 had put out proposals for licensing letting agents, but coalition Housing Minister Grant Shapps made plain in 2010 that he had no intention of following this through  – so landlords should choose letting agents with great care.

Credentials

In particular they should look for firms that belong to professional bodies, with proper procedures in place for redress – for example, members of the Association of Residential Lettings Agents (www.arla.co.uk), which is linked to the National Association of Estate Agents (www.naea.org.uk), or the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors.

The minimum that should be looked for is membership of the government-backed National Approved Letting Scheme (NALS – www.nalscheme.co.uk). Supported by ARLA, NAEA and RICS (Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors), this gives accreditation to letting and management agents that agree to meet defined standards of customer service, that have insurance cover to protect clients’ money, and have a complaints procedure offering independent redress.

Membership is voluntary and letting agents signify membership by displaying the NALS logo in their premises and sometimes on their letterheads.

It is also wise to check that agents are registered with the Property Ombudsman’s Scheme for Lettings. This is a government-backed scheme for dealing with maladministration. Member firms will have agreed to follow the Property Ombudsman’s Code of Practice for Letting Agents and to allow the Ombudsman to resolve disputes referred by landlords or tenants and relating to lettings and management agents (details on www.tpos.co.uk).

Formerly, the Ombudsman for Estate Agents (OEA), the Property Ombudsman is charged with resolving disputes between property sales and letting agents who have joined the OEA scheme and their clients, including landlords. The service is free and independent.

The Scheme is open to all those firms of estate agents with a principal, director or partner who is a member of the National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA) or Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS); to all corporate estate agents, such as subsidiaries of banks, building societies and insurance companies or are independently quoted on the Stock Exchange. It is also open to other estate agents who are sponsored and seconded by existing member agents.

Since October 2008, all estate agents have been required to register with an Estate Agents Redress Scheme, such as the OEA, that has been approved by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) and which investigates complaints against estate agents. Lettings and property management agents are not required to register in this way but may do so. When they join the OEA they also subscribe to the Code of Practice for Letting Agents.




The Landlord's Handbook has everything you need to know about being a landlord – go to www.harriman-house.com/thelandlordshandbook to purchase your copy.




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