Housing Benefit Letting Agent

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Source(s): Housing Benefit Letting Agent

0 Services Listed currently of Service Offers type: Housing Benefit Letting Agent.

Source(s): Housing Benefit Letting Agent

Source(s): Housing Benefit Letting Agent

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Source(s): Housing Benefit Letting Agent

Further Info

Nicked from: http://england.shelter.org.uk/get_advice/finding_a_place_to_live/renting_privately/letting_agencies#1

   * What do letting agencies do?
   * How do I find a letting agency?
   * How do letting agencies work?
   * What should I ask the agency?
   * What do agencies charge?
   * Does it matter whether I'm claiming housing benefit?

What do letting agencies do?

Letting agencies act on behalf of landlords, not tenants. In most cases they are paid by the landlord. There are various different types of letting agencies. Some just find tenants for properties (these are often known as accommodation agencies). Others manage properties on behalf of landlords and the tenants may never have any direct contact with the landlord. It is common for estate agents to have a lettings department.

Letting agencies often:

   * find a tenant for a property
   * collect rent
   * manage the property for the landlord
   * arrange repairs
   * provide tenancy agreements and inventories.

Back to top How do I find a letting agency?

Accommodation and letting agencies are listed in the Yellow Pages. They also advertise in local papers. Local advice centres like Shelter advice centres or Citizens Advice may keep a list of agencies in your area. Use the Advice Services Directory to find the ones near you.

Some letting agencies are members of self-regulatory bodies such as the National Approved Lettings Scheme (NALS) or the Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA). If the agency you are using is a member you may be able to complain if it does not keep to a certain standard of good practice.

Back to top How do letting agencies work?

You will usually need to register with a letting agency before they offer you any accommodation. You can register with more than one agency at a time. They will need to know what sort of accommodation you are looking for and how much you can pay.

Once you are registered, agencies normally let you know when suitable accommodation becomes available. When a property is found, arrange to view it as quickly as possible.

Back to top What should I ask the agency?

Before agreeing to take accommodation from a letting agency find out:

   * what the agency does on behalf of the landlord
   * what sort of tenancy agreement they are offering
   * how long you can stay
   * what charges you will have to pay before you move in
   * how much the rent is and how often it's paid
   * how the agency wants the rent paid (for example, by cheque or standing order).

Back to top What do agencies charge?

Some agencies don't charge tenants at all. However, they may charge for drawing up tenancy agreements, providing inventories and for administrative costs such as phone calls and postage.

You shouldn't have to pay any fees until the agency has found a place for you. It is a criminal offence for an agency to charge you just to register or for supplying addresses and details of accommodation. Don't pay any fees until you've been offered a place. There may be other agencies that can help. If you believe an agency is acting illegally tell your local council's tenancy relations officer or legal department.

If you find a property you like, the agency may charge a holding deposit while they take up references. Any holding deposit you pay should be deducted from the amount of rent in advance or deposit you have to pay once your references come through. The agency might ask for references from your employer, bank and/or previous landlord.

If you don't move into the property you may lose the holding deposit. If you think the agency has unfairly kept your money get advice. You might be able to claim it back in the county court.

If you do move in, the agency will probably ask for a deposit (usually one month's rent) and the first month's rent in advance. The amount of deposit and rent in advance required can be more than this, especially if the letting is going to be for a long period of time or if the property is of high value.

Back to top Does it matter whether I'm claiming housing benefit?

Some agencies won't accept tenants on housing benefit. Housing benefit is paid four weeks in arrears. You may therefore need to find the first month's rent yourself. Housing benefit will not cover the deposit or any agency fees.

You can find out the maximum amount of housing benefit you can get before you move in by applying to the council for what is called a pre-tenancy determination, with the letting agency's co-operation.

In addition, some landlords and agencies are afraid to let their properties to DSS tenants, because of their illegal rental agreements in order to avoid paying council tax. This fact is rather common in London and it creates a stereotype about benefit holders, which is "the farther the better".

Source(s): Housing Benefit Letting Agent