If you're thinking about renting out your home, you might want to consider hiring a letting agent to help you.
A letting agent can:
- find a tenant for you and manage your property (including repairs)
- deal with issues the tenant may have
- help make sure you're meeting all legal requirements
A letting agent will not:
- be legally responsible if there's an accident at the property or it's damaged – it's up to you to make sure you have buildings insurance and things like gas certificates are up to date (though they can help you with this)
- be responsible for registering a tenant's deposit, if you take one (though they can register it for you)
- register you as a landlord – you have to do this yourself through the local council where your property is located
- apply for an HMO licence if your property is rented out to 3 or more unrelated tenants
Things to consider when choosing a letting agent
If you want to use a letting agent to help you rent your property, there are a number of things you may want to check to see if their service is suitable for your needs.
After you've chosen a letting agent, you may find it helpful to have a legal expert look over your contract.
You may want to ask them general questions about the business. These include:
- if they're on the Scottish Letting Agent Register - all agents in Scotland need to be on the register and follow the Letting Agent Code of Practice
- if they have professional indemnity insurance and client money protection, which provides additional protection should things go wrong
- if they have complaints and disciplinary procedures
- what their track record's like – their rent arrears, how long their properties tend to be empty, what condition they're usually in at the end of a tenancy
You may also want to ask them about their general day-to-day activities, including:
- how they deal with emergencies – how quickly maintenance staff will be at the property, how they'll inform you about it, what happens outside of working hours
- how often they arrange inspections of the property
- how they'll check your property meets fire and safety standards
- what sort of minor maintenance and repairs they'll pay for and speak to you about later
- their standard charge – how often you have to pay them, whether they expect payment when the property is empty, how often they send out statements and how the payments are broken down
There could be different levels of service, depending on the type of contract you agree to – some of the services listed above may be standard, some may be specific to individual landlord agreements.
Letting agent regulation
Everyone that carries out letting agency work must join the Scottish Letting Agent Register.
The Register of Letting Agents is a list run by Scottish Ministers that makes sure every letting agent is suitable to do the job and has met minimum qualification and training requirements.