Don't Be Duped By Dodgy Landlords

31 August 2015, 06:00

For rent sign

Landlords and letting agents are urging students to educate themselves about the service they should expect and how to spot rogue operators.

Students are often a prime target for rogue letting agents or landlord who are breaking the law, resulting in high costs and tenants staying in sub-standard and sometimes dangerous accommodation.  

The Scottish Association of Landlords along with sister organisation, the Council of Letting Agents is urging people to make sure their landlord or letting agent who is working within the law and to the highest professional standards.

In particular, students should look out for:

Professional Membership:  Make sure your landlord or letting agent is a member of a professional body such as SAL (landlords – www.scottishlandlords.com) or the CLA (http://www.counciloflettingagents.com/).

No upfront fees:  The agent should not charge tenants anything in connection with the grant of a lease other than rent and a security deposit.  If an agent asks for any additional fees, do not pay and contact SAL, the CLA
or your local students association immediately for advice.

Deposit:  Agents or landlords should lodge all deposits with a tenancy deposit scheme and should provide you with information about which one they will be using.  Be wary of agents who say they don't take deposits, particularly if they demand large sums of rent in advance.

Services:  Clarify what services the landlord or agent is providing.  Sometimes they will be involved in managing the property from the start to the end of the tenancy; sometimes the landlord will take over once the tenants
move in.  In particular, make sure you are clear who is responsible for paying bills such as utilities or Council Tax.

Paperwork:  Ask to see a copy of their standard lease before you commit to the property & check you are happy with the terms.  Read these documents carefully and do not sign until you are content.  If you are unsure, then
check with your student association before agreeing.

Insurance: Whilst a landlord or letting agent may offer contents insurance or urge you to get some, they cannot insist you purchase it.

Recommendation:  If you have friends who've had a good experience of using the agent this is a great sign.

Accreditation:  Check that the agent is accredited with Landlord Accreditation Scotland (LAS) (http://www.landlordaccreditationscotland.com/).  This is a legal requirement for all landlords and letting agents in Scotland.

John Blackwood, Chief Executive of the Scottish Association of Landlords said:  ''Whilst renting privately is a very different experience to using college or university accommodation, students should still expect
 he process to be simple and transparent, we all as carried out with a high level of customer service.

''For too long students have been ripped off by rogue letting agents or landlords.  It is critical that they are aware of their rights, what level of service they should expect and how to ensure they can find a
 reputable landlord or letting agent.

''It is the responsibility of SAL and the CLA to eradicate rogue practice which threatens to undermine the whole of the Private Rented Sector in Scotland.  We hope these simple tips will help students spot rogue
letting agents and landlords quickly and easily.  If someone suspect they have been dealing with someone operating outside the law, they should inform either ourselves or their local student association as soon as possible so we can investigate and take any additional action required.''

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