Know your rights when renting and always be safe

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IN this unregulated industry where anyone can set up as a letting agent, regardless of qualifications, knowledge or experience, local letting specialist Leaders offers sound advice for tenants on some vital questions to ask your letting agent to ensure that your rights and interests as a tenant are protected.

Leaders’ managing director, Paul Weller explained: ‘A resounding ‘YES’ to all the questions below is the least you should expect from any letting agent that you are trusting to look after your safety, your rights and your money during your tenancy. Don’t settle for anything less.’

n Will you receive a copy of a Gas Safety Certificate, issued by a Gas Safe Engineer, before moving into the property? This proves that all gas appliances have been checked within the last 12 months and are safe.

n Will all furnishings at the property comply with fire safety regulations and all electrical equipment comply with electrical safety regulations?

n Will the agent have concerns for your safety in the property beyond their statutory obligations? At Leaders we look out for any potential safety hazards in all properties and advise our landlords if necessary on how to make them safer, for example, covering ponds, installing safety glass, putting fencing around swimming pools, fitting banisters.

n Will you receive a copy of the Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) before viewing properties so you can make an informed decision?

n Will the Tenancy Agreement you sign be written in plain English and contain no unfair terms and conditions, as determined by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT)

n Will your deposit be protected and held in accordance with the Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS) and does the agent have a client money protection scheme in place so you can be sure your rent payments are safe? Is your agent a member of the SAFE Agent scheme?

n Will you be given a copy of the Inventory & Schedule of Condition at the start of the tenancy and have the opportunity to request changes if you find any inaccuracies? This document is key to determining whether you get your full deposit back at the end of the tenancy or whether any deductions need to be made to cover loss or damage.

n Will the agent ensure that your rights as a tenant are protected during your tenancy? You have the right to quiet enjoyment of the property as your own home during the tenancy and must be given at least 24 hours written notice before a visit by the letting agent or landlord, except in an emergency.

n Will the agent be managing the property during your tenancy and if so, do they have a dedicated, in-house property management department with access to reliable contractors to sort out any maintenance issues or problems that may occur during your tenancy?

n Is your agent a member of a professional body such as ARLA, RICS or NAEA?

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