A letting agent is a term for a facilitator through which an agreement is made between a landlord and tenant for the rental of a residential property. The term is common in countries using British English, including countries of the Commonwealth. In the UK, Australia and New Zealand the agreement between landlord and tenant is normally formalised by the signing of a tenancy agreement. A letting agency will normally charge a commission for their services, usually a percentage of the annual rent.
Although there are two main types of renting, letting agents deal primarily with tenancies between private individuals and landlords.
There are a number of services offered by lettings agents, including:
Typical letting agent fees to tenants in England and Wales may include:
The chancellor, Philip Hammond, promised to ban letting agent fees in England and Wales in his autumn statement of November 2016.
To maximise the service that a letting agent provides it is important prospective tenants to make letting agents aware of their requirements before they arrange viewings so that properties are better matched to tenant's needs. Since letting agents act as a matchmaker between property, landlord and tenant it is important for them to gain an understanding of customer requirements including; location, property size, budget, pets, etc.
There are currently no statutory arrangements regarding the regulation of letting agents. Around half of UK lettings agents are currently self-regulated. The principal organisations for lettings agents are the Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA) and the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS). These have codes of practice and compliance controls which govern the activities of their members.
The English government also provides its own accrediting body for letting agents. This body is called NALS (National Assured Letting Scheme). See http://www.nalscheme.co.uk/whatis.htm
In Scotland all landlords must be registered with the local authority. Whilst agents are not required to register, they are actively encouraged to do so.
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