A lot of the hard work that agents do for tenants goes unnoticed. Make friends with your agent and your tenancy will be smooth sailing!
Tenants are often unaware of the work a good letting agent can do on their behalf. “From the outset, an experienced agent will be able to advise you on the rental you can afford based on your income and living expenses,” says Paul Stevens, CEO of Just Property. “The agent will then not only help you find the right home, their excellent sense of the rental market in their area will ensure you are charged a fair rental.”
The next advantage is that an agent working for a large property company will have access to a well-constructed rental agreement. “Tenants don’t always realise that a good lease protects them against unfair terms and conditions,” Stevens says. “Just Property contracts are CPA compliant, which means that tenants are well protected. For example, we disclose all terms and conditions, such as rate escalations, deposit processes and all management fees. This means there are no nasty surprises for a tenant who has read and understood the contract before signing it.”
Stevens emphasises the importance of going through your lease carefully with your agent before adding your signature and initialing every page. “Be upfront with your agent. Take them into your confidence. If there’s anything you want to adjust in your lease, an agent you trust can help you do so. The time for negotiation is before you’ve signed the contract. But don’t be shy to ask about anything you’re unsure of. That’s what the agent is there for.”
Another benefit to tenants in agent-managed properties is deposit protection. Stevens notes that Just Property uses PayProp across the majority of their franchise offices. “PayProp holds our tenants’ deposits securely in interest-bearing trust accounts. These are strictly controlled and cannot be misappropriated. Landlords who manage their own properties have easier access to deposits and some have been known to dip into these funds when cash flow is tight,” he warns. When it comes to maintenance, a professional managing agent will have a network of trusted service providers who can be called on for maintenance work or emergency repairs (even after hours). The agent will negotiate with the landlord for the required improvements or repairs on behalf of the tenant.
“Agents are a great help in ensuring the relationship between landlord and tenant is a good one, but it is true that sometimes circumstances change. It is when there is a dispute that you’ll be especially grateful for an experienced agent,” says Stevens.
An astute, well-informed letting agent with access to the best property-law knowledge can navigate conflict in accordance with contractual terms, and relevant legislation. “Together with a legal professional, such an agent will help tenants in dispute with their landlords discover who has what rights, and negotiate the best solution. This is one of the reasons we place such emphasis on lifelong learning for all our agents.”
A good agent who knows you well, who has the same values as you do, will ensure there’s a good relationship between you and your landlord even if you have never met. Afterall, a good tenant is every landlord's first prize, so form a strong relationship via your agent and you can benefit long-term. Stevens says that Just Property agents have, on occasion, even advised landlords to reduce rental escalations in order to retain good tenants who look after the property as if it were their own.
And when that good tenant is ready to move on, a trusted agent can help them avoid a host of problems, whether they’re signing a new lease or taking the plunge and buying their first home.
Make friends with your letting agent - they are there for tenant and landlord alike.