Students should demand “simple and transparent” service from landlords and letting agents
As university and college students move in to new accommodation across Scotland, landlords and letting agents are urging people to educate themselves about the service they should expect and how to spot rogue operators.
Students, especially those with no prior renting experience, 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 (SAL), along with sister organisation, the Council of Letting Agents (CLA) is urging new and returning students to watch for signs to ensure that they are working with a credible 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 – 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 take 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 suggested 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 the process to be simple and transparent and 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.”
“SAL and the CLA have a responsibility to work with other bodies 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.”
“In addition to these tips, more information is available from our website and if anyone has further questions we would urge them to get in touch.”
For further information please contact Graeme Downie on 07973 300 184 or Graeme.firstname.lastname@example.org
Notes to editors
About the Scottish Association of Landlords (SAL) - https://www.scottishlandlords.com/
Established in 2001 having developed from various local groupings of landlords and letting agents, the Scottish Association of Landlords quickly grew to be the largest and only dedicated national landlords organisation representing landlords and agents throughout Scotland.
Through our fourteen local branches and with members from Shetland to Stranraer, the organisation has strong links with Scottish local authorities and actively campaigns at local and national level on behalf of members. Our acclaimed training programme, delivered through sister organisation Landlord Accreditation Scotland (LAS), offers our members the opportunity to meet locally and learn from each other’s experience as well as gaining knowledge from some of the country’s most experienced industry trainers.
Policy, lobbying and campaigning has been an important aspect of SAL’s work since our inception. Our Policy & Parliamentary Affairs department works at the heart of government in the Scottish Parliament, as well as Westminster where relevant, with most of housing matters devolved to Holyrood.
About the Council of Letting Agents – http://www.counciloflettingagents.com/
The Council of Letting Agents (CLA) is the specialist wing of the Scottish Association of Landlords representing Scotland’s leading letting agents. It is the largest professional association of its kind in Scotland and is at the head of the lettings industry.
The CLA represents the collective opinion of our member letting agents and we encourage all our members to feed in by email or phone. Landlords and agents are in the same industry, so we believe working together as much as possible as equal parts of SAL, the leading trade body in the country, makes us all stronger.
Convenor Amanda Wiewiorka leads the group and represents agents on the SAL National Council which feeds into the overall policy position of the organisation.