Private Landlord Rights When Working with a Letting Agency
When you become a landlord for the first time it’s important to appreciate what kind of rights and responsibilities this brings. Working with a letting agent can help to lighten some of the load when it comes to understanding what’s required of you and taking the right action. But, if you decide to let your property via a letting agent, how does that affect your responsibilities and position as a landlord?
The key contract is still between you and the tenant, not the agent
It doesn’t matter if you have no contact at all with your tenants – even if they only ever speak to your letting agent, the contract remains with you. Letting agents work on behalf of landlords and can help to make tenancy administration easier to manage, as well as reducing the volume of tenant contact that you need to deal with. However, the legal part of the relationship – the tenancy agreement – always remains between you, the landlord, and the tenants.
Your legal relationship with the agent will be separately defined
When you start working with a letting agent you’ll have an agreement in place that sets out how you want the relationship to work going forward. It’s important that you understand this relationship so that you know what the letting agent is required to do and where your legal responsibilities lie.
What if the letting agent lets you down?
- The reason that most landlords choose to work with a letting agent is to make life easier. However, not every letting agent does a great job. Key to avoiding this is ensuring that you make the right choice of letting agent in the first place. It’s a good idea to opt for an agent that is a member of a professional body, such as the Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA). ARLA members must abide by certain rules and the professional body can help with disputes.
- Reasonable skill and care. Your letting agent must act with reasonable skill and care when managing the tenancy on your behalf. If that doesn’t happen then you’re well within your rights to take action.
- Making a complaint. The first step is usually to speak to the letting agent and outline the issue. If a solution cannot be found or agreement reached then you may want to end the contract and move on to a better letting agent.
- If you are unable to resolve the complaint using the agents complaints process, you may be able to refer it to a redress scheme. Letting Agents are required to be members of a recognised redress scheme since October 2014.
As a landlord, you will retain all your rights and obligations if you choose to work with a letting agent. The key difference is that you can make a claim against an agent who may be at fault if there is an issue and tenants are making a claim against you.