Renting a room is supposed to be an easy task: you find an apartment that meets (or surpasses) your expectations, sign an agreement, pay a deposit, and live happily ever after. However, the barrage of questions and complexities that surround the actual rental can make this fairy-tale quite frightening for first-time renters. One of the common dilemmas that arise when searching for a room to rent is the choice between a property managed by a private landlord or by a letting agency. However, properly understanding the pros and cons of both options can help make the right choice for you.
Renting from a Private Landlord
- Cheaper Rents – Renting from a private landlord can be cheaper since the cost of an agent’s fees or commission is not passed on to you. The absence of renewal fees and administrative charges allow you to pay much less compared to an agency.
- Building Safety – A landlord’s vested interest in the property is a distinct advantage in your favour when it comes to structural maintenance and safety checks on the building, especially as it’s solely their responsibility.
- Single Point of Contact – Access to a private landlord with local knowledge is far more convenient than dealing with several people who may not be as familiar with the property. Landlords who live in the neighborhood of the rental property are usually approachable about issues with the property or to answer questions about utilities and maintenance.
- Flexibility – Renting a room from a private landlord affords a degree of flexibility when it comes to the terms of the rental agreement, permission for pet habitation, and home improvement co-payments.
- Lack of Regulation – One of the risks of renting from a private landlord is that the terms and conditions of your rental agreement are relatively unregulated. If you are not familiar with housing law and rental regulations, landlords with malicious intentions can place you in an extremely unfavourable and one-sided tenancy.
- Ignorance of Rental Law – It can be challenging to work with a landlord who does not know his or her legal obligations over the course of a long tenancy. Such obligations could include energy performance regulations, repairs and maintenance, fire and gas safety, immigration regulations, and other government requirements. A landlord who does not know about these regulations could be putting you at risk in terms of safety and legal compliance.
Renting from an Agency
- Large Selection of Properties – Agencies usually offer you a far wider range of rental properties. If you are looking for a specific type of property, such as a studio apartment or single-family house, contacting a letting agency is far more efficient.
- Legal Compliance – Real estate rental agencies are subject to regulations and legislation laid down by local and national bodies, such as the district council and other housing regulatory authorities. Consequently, it assures you that the lease agreement conforms to the law of the land. Typically, agencies ensure that you receive copies of all mandatory documents such as the Statement of Tenancy Terms.
- Rental Assistance – Renting through a letting agency gives you access to several value-added services such as flatsharing, access to roommates, access to tradespersons for tenant repairs and remodelling, landlord liaison, and housing inspections.
- Cost – Rental agencies usually charge a fee for their services and require you to open a deposit with them. On the bright side, all rental agencies are bound by law to openly publish a complete list of all the fees they charge. Some of the fees you may pay include tenancy fees, referencing fees, documentation fees, administrative fees, and several miscellaneous fees. While these fees are permitted by law, negotiating with an agency to reduce them is a viable option, especially if the property you have in mind has been vacant for a long time.
- Communication Delays – An agent can act as a liaison between you and your potential landlord, but such a relationship can delay and slow down direct communication.
The choice between working with private landlord or a letting agency hinge on several factors such as your budget, your familiarity with rental laws and your rights as a tenant, special needs you may have as a tenant, the duration of the tenancy, the type of rental accommodation you require. It also hinge on whether you foresee the need for assistance during and after the course of your rental agreement. These factors can suggest a rental strategy to you in your journey towards a safe and well-adjusted tenancy.