Avoid falling prey to rogue agents
12:14pm Thursday 14th February 2013
As more and more people turn to renting, the Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA) is warning would-be tenants to watch out for rogue letting agents.
In just over a decade, the private rented sector has grown by 1.62 million people, and 17 per cent of all households are now rental properties. ARLA’s key warning signs for prospective tenants to be aware of are:
Not allowed to see the whole property?
Be wary of agents who refuse full viewing and inspection of the property. At best, there may be problems behind the closed doors; at worst, they may be showing you around a property that is already being rented to another individual, who might be staying on in that room. Always thoroughly inspect the property, checking every room. It is also a good idea to do your research on the local area, both online and in person, to make sure it is suited to your needs.
Do you know what the logo means?
Keep an eye out for non-accredited third party logos or accreditation being used by agents to look as if they are monitored and adhere to a set code of conduct. This can be used to lure prospective tenants into a false sense of security.
Always check that agents are affiliated to a professional organisation like the ARLA using the appropriate website to confirm.
Can’t get in contact with the agent or landlord?
If you are searching online or via notice boards, be cautious of adverts with no telephone numbers or adverts that only use free email hosts. Ring the phone number on the advert to check its authenticity. Unscrupulous ‘middlemen’ may use false phone numbers or phone numbers they find online.
Asked to transfer money?
Be cautious if you are asked to pay via money transfer agents. Some will be bone fide, but as this type of transfer is hard to track there is a chance it may be used for dishonest transactions.
Always try and make payments in person at the letting agent’s office, and obtain a receipt or record. Ask for written confirmation of fees and charges that you will need to pay.
A formal tenancy agreement should always be signed before any money has changed hands. Keep all documentation and receipts for your records.