Buy to let expert Kate Faulkner says tenants should undertake more research on agents, landlords and properties before choosing a place to rent.
In the latest guide overseen by Faulkner and funded by the TDS Charitable Foundation, tenants are given a simple infographic guide for first-time renting, including background on the advantages of renting through a lettings agent.
“Due to a current lack of regulation and low levels of enforcement of the law in this sector, tenants need to spend more time researching on how to rent a property legally and safely, before they fall in love with a property. Helping tenants spot the rogues beforehand has the potential to drive out the people who make it hard for those acting responsibly” says Faulkner.
“One of the best pieces of advice I could give is that tenants should ensure that that their agent is an accredited member of a self-regulating body such as RICS or ARLA in the same way that they’d check their holiday was protected by ATOL or ABTA.
“Ideally landlords should be members of a landlords’ association, such as the RLA or a local authority or student accommodation landlord scheme” she adds.
Faulkner says tenants should expect a property where they can see the EPC upfront, with up-to-date gas safety certificates and ideally carbon monoxide detectors too, plus evidence that their deposit is safely protected in a recognised scheme such as TDS.
“If tenants walk away from sub-standard properties, poor landlords will quickly get the message and make amends as void periods are their worst nightmare. Tenants do have a role to play in refusing to accept illegal behaviour from landlords or tolerating properties below acceptable living standards and should report to their local authority any properties which fail to meet the correct standards” says Faulkner.
“The private rented sector is often accused of being like the ‘wild west’ but if tenants know what to look for in an agent and landlord as well as what is really acceptable property standard wise, this reputation can be quickly suppressed.”
The TDS Charitable Foundation is funded by the Tenancy Deposit Scheme and aims to promote better standards in the private rented sector.