Staying Safe When Seeking a Rental Property

This short article gives some safety considerations that should be applied by prospective tenants when looking to rent a property through us or one of our landlord clients, or indeed any other landlord or letting agent.

At Visum we have 2 broad categories of property that we advertise for rent – properties where the rental will be arranged and managed by ourselves, and property where the rental will be arranged and managed by one of our clients. When you enquire about a property we will state which type of property it is.
If it’s a property that we are managing, then we will carry out the viewings and take deposits and rental payments from the successful applicant. If it’s a property that one of our landlord clients is managing themselves then, naturally, they will carry out viewings, take deposit payments and so on.

Dealing directly with the landlord requires the same application of common sense as dealing with an agency (but offers the advantage that you will not pay any agency fees). Both scenarios require you to take some simple steps to reassure yourself that the party you are dealing with is honest and upfront.

The first step might seem obvious, but it is absolutely crucial: you must physically visit and inspect the property you’re interested in renting and if you’re dealing directly with a landlord you should meet them. You must never, ever, under any circumstances hand over money for a property you (or someone that you completely trust) have not internally viewed and inspected, or to a landlord that you (or your trusted representative) have not met face to face. If you break this rule you are putting yourself at risk of ending up renting a property that is not what you thought it was, or – even worse - of being defrauded.

If you’re dealing directly with a landlord then do not accept any stories about him not being available to show you the property, but instead being willing to take payment remotely in a way that protects you if you turn out to be disappointed with the property. This might be feasible, but it might not. We don’t believe it’s worth taking the chance.

If you’re worried about paying a landlord directly then – providing the landlord agrees – you can pay us and we will hold the money until both parties confirm that they are happy enough with developments for the funds to be released.

You should be prepared to identify yourself to the satisfaction of the landlord, a letting agency or a credit referencing agency. The law now requires landlords to identify their tenants and their right to rent. So it’s perfectly reasonable for them to ask to see and take copies of photographic identification such as a passport or driving licence., and to keep those copies for the duration of your tenancy.

There is currently no requirement for landlords to positively identify themselves to you, and if you are renting through an agency then you will likely never meet them. However, you must be given the name and contact address of your landlord and you can check the ownership of a property with the land registry very easily using their online service.

If you’re dealing directly with a landlord then we think it’s reasonable for you to ask to see some form of identification from them before you hand over any money.

If you follow these simple steps then you will eliminate much of the risk of disappointment, frustration and loss that can taint your rental experience.

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