Whether you’re a landlord or a tenant, the likelihood is you’ll have to deal with letting agents from time to time.
If you feel unsure on your rights or how to deal with a problem, we're here to guide you through it and tell you all you need to know.
What are a tenant's rights?
According to the government, as a tenant you have the right to:
- Live in a property that is safe and well maintained
- have your deposit returned once your tenancy ends
- know who your landlord is (if you don’t know who your landlord is, write to the person you pay rent to and ask. If they don’t provide you with this information within 21 days, they can be fined)
- live in the property undisturbed (if your landlord needs access for inspection or repairs they need to give you 24 hours’ notice)
- see an energy performance certificate
- be protected from unfair eviction
- be protected from unfair rent
- challenge any excessively high charges
- have a written agreement.
Your responsibilities are to:
- Take care of the property
- pay the agreed rent
- pay council tax and utility bills
- repair any damage caused by you or any visitors you have
- only sublet the property if your landlord allows it or if it’s part of your tenancy agreement.
What to do if you’re a landlord dealing with a letting agent?
It’s important to know your rights and responsibilities as a landlord, so you know what you can complain about and who can resolve it.
Firstly, you should check the complaints procedure of the organisation you’re complaining to. Once you have issued your complaint you should leave enough time for your letting agent to respond and deal with the complaint. If after a few weeks you haven’t heard anything then you can refer your complaint to the Property Redress Scheme.
If the redress scheme doesn’t provide a satisfactory result and the letting agent is ARLA Propertymark Protected, you can send your complaint to Propertymark.
If you need to report your letting agent for acting illegally you should report them to National Trading Standards.
If you have any health and safety concerns these should be reported directly to your local authority.
How to complain about your letting agent or estate agent?
Many tenants worry about making complaints against their letting agent or estate agent, as they fear it could lead to them being evicted. You’re letting agent is not allowed to do this. If you’re worried this is going to happen you should contact your nearest Citizens Advice centre.
If you do want to report a problem, the first thing you should do is contact your letting agent. Explain to them the reasons you’re unhappy and tell them how you’d like them to rectify the issue. If you feel uncomfortable speaking to them in person or on the phone, you can always email them.
If you don’t get a response from your letting agent, you could try contacting your landlord directly to ask for their help. You can usually find their information on your tenancy agreement.
If you still aren’t getting the help, you need you should consider writing a letter of complaint. Most letting agents will have a complaints procedure outlined on their website.
In your letter you should include:
- The problem you’d like to complain about
- how you’d like them to fix the issue
- any dates or times you’ve recorded of the problem taking place
- details of any previous conversations you’ve had with your letting agents including copies of emails and letters
- any photographs if you’re highlighting any damage or disrepair
- receipts of anything you’ve had to pay for because of the problem
- a doctor’s note if the problem is affecting your health.
What is the property Ombudsman?
The property Ombudsman is a government-approved scheme that resolves issues between tenants and property agents. It’s their job to achieve a full and final settlement of any disputes or claims made by either party.
The Ombudsman can compensate individuals up to a maximum of £25,000 for any loss, aggravation, distress or inconvenience caused by the actions of an agent. However, the Ombudsman doesn’t have the authority to take legal action against an agent.
Disclaimer: All information and links are correct at the time of publishing.