Purple Hat top tips for finding your next rental home with a good and reputable agent:-

1. Try to use an accredited agent.

There is no compulsory licensing of letting agents but there are agents who are voluntarily licensed and accredited. Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA) licensed agents have to be trained, sit exams and undergo continual professional development (CPD). The National Approved Letting Scheme (NALS), like ARLA also have to have audited client accounts, client money bonding and a redress scheme such as The Property Ombudsman or RICS. This means the letting agent knows what they are doing,  are responsible with the money they handle and if you pay your rent to them they won’t go spending it on a fast car or fancy shoes, they will pay it to the landlord. Your deposit will be held safely and they will have a complaints procedure.

2. Spread the love.

Do not confine yourself to one letting agent – remember you are not the client! You have no contract with the letting agent to use them as a sole agent and are free to shop around.   Short list the properties first, even if they are with several agents. Once you’ve got your short list then you can worry about the agent’s credentials.

3. Use the Internet and use it often.

Rental properties, at the moment, are here today, gone tomorrow. Looking once a week in your local paper or High Street agencies will just not cut it. Remember too that in this day and age, there are many agencies who don’t have a high street or even shop presence as we just don’t need it so much any more. Search the Internet daily for rental properties in the area of your choice.

4. When you see a property you like, call.

Now, not tomorrow, not at the weekend. Do it now. And yes, call. Don’t email. By calling you’re politely requesting to be served now, not when the agent has time to cast their eye over their emails. Book the viewing for as soon as possible. Remember that booking a viewing is not reserving the property. If there are five people seeing it before you there are five less chances of you seeing it at all (that is, of course, if the agent has the courtesy to call you up and cancel the viewing if they’ve rented it before your viewing, otherwise the best you can hope for is seeing the outside while you wait for someone to turn up).

5. Welcome questions.

If the agent asks you lots of questions then welcome them and be as co-operative as you can. They are doing their job properly. Before wasting theirs and your time they should be checking it’s the right property for you, you will pass referencing and if not, that you have a guarantor or a larger deposit. These are the agents who are listening to you.

6. Ask questions.

Ask the agent whether they think the property will go quickly. Ask when it is available from. Ask whether they manage it or whether the landlord manages it themselves. Remember that if they manage it you need the relationship to be good as you’ll have to deal with them throughout the length of the tenancy. If they are not communicating with you well at the beginning or being approachable, friendly and respectful to you then you’re in for a long ride of bashing your head against a brick wall and you might want to pass it by. Also, ask for or rather demand honesty. Say, “Do you keep a register of tenants, is it worth leaving my details if something comes up that will suit me? And if you do, is it first come, first served?”

7. Be specific in your search criteria. 

If you tell the agent you’re interested in properties for rent anywhere in Norwich or anywhere in London and you will pay anything within reason, that you want one or two bedrooms and they phone you up with a one bedroom flat, in an area you’re not so keen on at a price that’s too high for you, it’s not going to take too long for them write you off as too much like hard work. If you are specific they have a very clear picture of what you want. You know what happens with pictures don’t you? They’ll link that picture with you and when the property comes along who is the first person they’ll call?

8. Tell the world…first your landlord.

I’m not going all new age “put it out there to the universe” on you – well, not entirely because it’s true you attract what you ask for – but do tell the world. In the first instance, if you’re happy with your existing landlord and it’s just the property you’ve out grown, tell them you’re looking to move for whatever reason. Bigger, smaller, different area, cheaper. There’s two reasons for doing this. Firstly if you do have a good relationship with your landlord and perhaps looking for something cheaper he or she might want to keep you because you’re a good tenant and reduce the rent. The landlord’s expenses are lower if you stay and your expenses are dramatically reduced if you don’t have to move. Secondly, your landlord may have other properties and will know if there’s one coming vacant in the foreseeable future. You may want to hang on where you are for a couple of months and get the other property before it goes on the market.

9. Tell the world…friends, family, colleagues.

Word travels fast and it may be over a conversation at the coffee machine or in the pub that someone you know, knows someone who has a property which is soon to be vacated or refurbished due to go on the market and it’s got your name written all over it. ‘Dunlooking’ maybe?

10. Tell the world…Tweet it, poke it, like it

Use social media to tell the world what you’re looking for. Lots of agents are using social media especially Twitter. Those agents who are using it properly to engage with people are the new breed who, often times, understand good customer service. Also you will find your followers will retweet and recommend to you, further widening your search.

Happy house hunting.