Renting a property can often be a confusing business, especially if you go through a residential letting agency that try and take control of the process and pressure you into signing things before you feel comfortable. There are some questions you should always ask before renting. Firstly, find out if the agency is in a professional organization, as this is a good guide of their professional integrity and ability to do the job. Ask to see proof of their membership if you’re not satisfied with their answer.

A key part of the vast majority of rental agreements is the deposit, which you give to the landlord or letting agency and get back at the end of your tenancy. You should ask the agency what happens to the deposit when you’ve given it to them. Also ask about the processes for getting it back when you move out so you are clear on your rights and know your money is safe. Good landlords will happily give you this information, so if they don’t tell you, be wary.

Make sure you know if there are any extra fees associated with a rental agreement. Often, you’ll find that agencies bury extra costs such as maintenance or administration in the middle of a load of technical jargon that can be confusing. Ask for a copy of the fee structure and get someone to help you through all the terminology if you need to, as it’s worth knowing. Also consider getting a couple of comparisons from other agencies to make sure their fees are fair.

Another key question to ask your letting agency is what happens if you have an emergency. For example, if you have an electrical fault or burst water pipe, what happens? Make sure you have a list of the people who will have access to your property and find out about how much notice the agency have to give you before entering the property. It pays to be clued up on your rights and the workings of the agency in case you need the information later.

Finally, to make sure you have found a good residential letting agency, ask them for references from previous tenants. If possible, ask to contact the previous resident of the property you are interested in renting so you can find out firsthand how good the service is. All good agencies should be happy to provide you with references, so you should be more suspicious if they refuse to give you any. Of course, a bad reference can often be the kiss of death, so take note of what people say.

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