From valuing the property and setting up the tenancy correctly, to serving the correct notices in the right way and ensuring a smooth handover at the end – it is vital to carry out every element of the process accurately.
Getting it wrong can have dire consequences; including huge legal expenses, loss of rent, long void periods, loss of tenants’ deposits and serious penalties for not complying with legislation. For tenants it can literally be a matter of life and death if legislation regarding the safety of the property and its contents is not complied with.
Leaders’ Managing Director, Paul Weller said: "We are disappointed but not surprised by the significant increase in problems with lettings reported to the Ombudsman.
"Over the last year the property market switched emphasis from sales to lettings in response to the slowdown and we saw an increase in landlords coming into the market who were letting out their homes as they were unable to sell. Alongside this there has also been an increase in agents providing a letting service for the first time.
"Our advice to the public is, and has always been, to use an experienced, specialist letting agent that is well established in the industry, has an in-depth knowledge of the lettings market and a thorough understanding of all the many regulations that apply to lettings."
At present, letting agents and landlords are not formally regulated, although the Government has proposed plans to address this.
In the meantime, more than 6000 letting agents, including Leaders, have signed up to the Property Ombudsman scheme and follow the standards laid out in its Lettings Code of Practice. This is seen by the Ombudsman as the first step towards the time when all lettings agents must be legally required to sign up for a redress scheme.
Weller said: "Demand for rental property is currently very high and many of our branches are experiencing significant increases in business, in many cases from landlords and tenants who are new to letting."
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