Letting agents act on behalf of landlords.
What do letting agents do?
There are various different types of letting agencies. Some just find contract-holders for properties (these are often known as accommodation agencies). Others manage properties on behalf of landlords and the contract-holders may never have any direct contact with the landlord.
Letting agencies often:
- find contract-holders
- collect rent
- manage the property
- arrange repairs
- provide occupation contracts and inventories.
Choosing a letting agency
Checking the agent has a Rent Smart Wales licence
Letting agents in Wales must be licensed under the Rent Smart Wales scheme. Don’t be afraid to ask the agent if they have a licence. If they do then they must keep to the requirements of a Code of Practice and can face penalties if they don’t comply. You can check to see if an agent has a licence here. See our pages on Landlord registration and licensing for more information.
Checking the agent is a member of a redress scheme
Rent Smart Wales require that letting agents belong to a redress scheme. If you are a contract-holder and you have a complaint about a letting agent, you can raise the complaint to a letting agent redress schemes. It is usually a requirement to have raised the complaint with the letting agent first. There are two official schemes:
- The Property Ombudsman (TPO) – you can check if an agent is a member here
- Property Redress Scheme (PRS) – you can check if an agent is a member here
Checking the agent has Client Money Protection (CMP)
Rent Smart Wales also requires that agents have Client Money Protection (CMP) if the agent handles money from any of their ‘clients’ (this means landlords and contract-holders). CMP schemes make sure contract-holders are compensated if the agent cannot pay money they owe, e.g.if the agent goes out of business and should have repaid your deposit. There are a number of CMP schemes, including Safeagent and Propertymark.
Checking whether the agent is a member of another professional body
There are a range of other professional bodies that exist to help, and provide guidance to, letting agents. There are a number of professional bodies, including PropertyMark, the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) and UK Association of Letting Agents (UKALA). These professional bodies usually have a code of conduct that an agent should adhere to, and they usually list members on their websites.
What else should I ask the letting agent?
Before agreeing to take accommodation from a letting agency find out:
- what the agency does on behalf of the landlord (e.g. will they manage the property?)
- what sort of occupation contract they are offering
- how long the landlord wants to rent out the property
- what charges you will have to pay before you move in
- how much the rent is and how often it’s paid
- how the agency wants the rent paid.
Can letting agencies charge?
Letting fees in Wales are banned. This means it is an offence for landlords and letting agents to charge them. Find out here which fees are banned and what you can do if you are charged a banned fee.
Letting agents should advertise any costs that you would need to pay in order to begin renting a property, including the holding deposit, security deposit and how much the rent is.
‘No DSS’ policies
It is discrimination for a letting agent to refuse to rent to you because you are on benefits or have a ‘no DSS’ policy. If this happens to you, use our Challenging DSS Discrimination toolkit to find out what you can do.
We are sorry that we cannot provide this information in Welsh, however if you would like to speak to an adviser in Welsh please contact 08000 495 495.