Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Root out the Rogues; Lettings: What Exactly Does a Letting Agent Do If a Landlord Gets a Bad Tenant? Nicola Venning Finds Out

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Root out the Rogues; Lettings: What Exactly Does a Letting Agent Do If a Landlord Gets a Bad Tenant? Nicola Venning Finds Out

Article excerpt

Byline: NICOLA VENNING

LONDON is packed with letting agents willing to rent out your property for a fat fee but how effective are they when the tenant won't pay the rent? How can an agent help a landlord when they're landed with a tenant from hell?

Firstly, it is important to remember that a letting agent is primarily a filter system - their maxim being prevention is better than cure.

"There is always a rogue out there and our job is to weed them out to the best of our ability," states Craig Silver, associate partner at Copping Joyce Estate and Letting Agents.

"There is a certain element of gut reaction which comes with experience but, at the end of the day, you can never read a book by looking at its cover. Sometimes the most well-dressed people end up being the worst tenants."

Sound advice then is what primarily a good letting agent should provide.

Always check that your agent is registered with Arla, The Association of Residential Letting Agents.

And unless you are living far away, meet the tenants they propose before signing any agreement. Also, never be rushed into accepting the first tenant who comes along. If you are not happy, wait.

A good agent will support you in this. As they well know, it's better to have a void period than a bad tenant - as I discovered to my cost.

I had happily let my property myself for five years when I was approached by a young mother on housing benefit. Because the rental market was quite flat, I agreed. She would quickly fill my void period (all of three weeks) and, I believed, guarantee my rent. It was a double whammy of foolishness. My tenant lost her housing benefit, refused to leave and I had six months without rent before getting her out.

Should you end up with a rotten apple, no matter how helpful the agent is, only you can sort it out. "The first thing to remember is that the contractual relationship is between the landlord and the tenant," states Silver, matter-of-factly. "So in terms of any legal steps, it is not the agent's position to instruct solicitors because he cannot. He does not have that relationship with the tenant. …

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