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Letting Agents

Make sure you rent with a good letting agent you trust. We can’t give you a list of all the good and bad letting agents (there are so many) but we can give you a guide to help you work out if you should trust an agency.

Landlords and agencies want to rent their property but make sure you don’t feel pressurised into renting.  Sunderland has many homes to rent; don’t feel like all the good houses will be gone. In all probability, there will still be landlords trying to attract students at the 11th hour- you might even get a bargain.

Sometimes, landlords and agencies will inform you that others are also thinking of signing for the property- be wary. That is not to say others are not looking to rent the property, but you should not feel so pressured that you are unable to check the property, have time to think and time to consider the fees, costs and contract.

Remember that from the 1st of June 2019, the Tenant Fees Act (2019) comes into effect, which bans most fees and puts limitations on deposits.

Letting agents need to make it clear and transparent any fees, costs and deposits. This should including if any fees include VAT and what protection deposits have. Remember that from the 1st of June 2019, the Tenant Fees Act (2019) comes into effect, which bans most fees and puts limitations on deposits.

You should also get to see a copy of the contract before moving in and a chance to read it (and possibly get it checked) before signing. The Landlord or agency should give you at least 24 hours’ notice in advance.  You could ask if they have a template contract they use which you could see in advance (this might help you negotiate any points in advance of moving day)

Make sure you get a copy of your contract when you sign and do not lose this copy! You should also be given essential documentation such as a valid up to date gas safety certificate, ideally an energy efficiency rating and an inventory of the property.

Within 30 days of paying the deposit you should get details as to which deposit protection scheme the landlord has used.

Whilst rare, scammers will sometimes post adverts online for properties that either don’t exists or they do not own.

They may make up excuses as to why no one is available to show you the property and try to rush you to pay money to secure the property before someone else takes it. If you have not seen the property in person you should never pay any money.

If you are overseas and unable to view a property, if you have a friend in the area, ask them to view on your behalf, you could even use skype, whatsapp, facetime (or another app) to view the property with your friend remotely.

Don’t take peoples word that decorating, repairs, or replacements will happen. You could get a nasty shock on moving day to see that nothing has been done and there is no record of the issues being raise.

If when viewing the property, there are repairs that the landlord or agent promised to do prior to moving in, you should get this in writing and preferably;

  • Within the contract, and with
  • An agreed deadline, and
  • Details of what will happen if the work is not completed on time.

If those repairs are included in the contract then failure to deliver the repairs could be a breach of contract.

Most letting agents must now by law be registered with a government-approved redress scheme.

Ask your letting agent which scheme they belong to or check their website. Some letting agents display details on stickers in their windows. Alternatively, search the redress scheme websites.

There are currently three government-approved schemes:

Page last reviewed: 01/03/2019
Next review due: 31/08/2020