With the number of private renters in the capital at an all-time high, it’s time to make renting work better says Patrick Brady, one of the founders of independent East London estate agent, EastHaus.
The chances are, living in London, you have had some experience of renting whether that be as a landlord or a tenant. I rented in London for many years and have had my fair share of horror stories. Dodgy agents with sky high fees, equally dodgy landlords where I’ve had to fight tooth and nail to get my deposit back and of course the numerous maintenance issues that either took an age to fix or just didn’t get fixed. I’ve also been on the other side where I’ve rented out my own property and again, had to deal with a rogue agent, got charged sky high fees, had tenants that treated my apartment like a squat and yet I struggled to retain any money from them to pay for damages.
Now I’m the middle man, the agent, and I’m glad I’ve experienced being a landlord and a tenant as it has given me an understanding of common frustrations from both sides. My job is now to make sure I can minimise these frustrations and help make the rental process a much better experience for all involved.
So what should you know about renting?
- Fees are usually the biggest bugbear. Be aware of what fees you are paying both as a landlord or a tenant. By law, Letting Agents must clearly display all their fees at their business premises and on their website. The aim is to make it easier for landlords and tenants to shop around, avoid hidden charges, and to prevent double charging where both could be charged for the same service.
- The up and coming tenant fee ban will see tenants fee abolished completely which will make a huge difference for tenants as the disparity in administration charges between agents is pretty big and more often than not, completely unjustified. However, Landlords should be careful to check that the Letting or Managing Agent is not then simply absorbing the loss by passing the fees onto them instead.
- Both parties should ensure there is some kind of protection scheme in place for the deposit, this is where the deposit is securely held by a third party, again this scheme is in place to protect both tenants and landlords.
- Tenants: ask questions! Lots of them, make sure you are absolutely clear what you can and can’t do in a property and don’t try and fake it. If you have a pet, if you work from home, if you need a guarantor, you’ll need to let the agent/landlord know.
- Landlords: ask even more questions! Check out the reputation of the agent you are considering before you commit to signing up with them. Look at review sites, how do people rate them? How well do they know the area and the market? what happens out of hours, can they be responsive if there is an emergency at your property?
- East London particularly has a very strong rental market with some fantastic properties available. Of course not everyone is perfect but if there is complete transparency between landlords, tenants and letting/managing agents then it makes the rental process a much nicer experience for all involved.