Role of letting agents

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Thursday 11 July 2013 4.37pm
My granddaughter is renting a small flat privately with her baby, she paid a heft deposit, then a month upfront and after moving in after the euphoria of having her own flat realised there were several things that she should have looked at more this scorching heat she is unable to open the windows they are the kind that you lock with a key, the Agents said they would sort it out and that was a fortnight ago. I am very worried in case there is a fire and they would be unable to get out, she is the 1st floor. is there anywhere online I could get advice as to the responsibilities of the Agent who it seems to me is getting money for old rope! Do local councils still have fire officers?
Thursday 11 July 2013 5.03pm
The letting agent is probably responsible for maintenance, but like you say - it is largely money for old rope.

There is no organisation that monitors estate/letting agents, there is no qualification required to work as one or to set up your own agency, and most of the fees they charge are made-up and disproportionate to the work they put in.

There are some good, efficient ones out there, and lots of bad ones who give the rest of the industry a bad name.

Your Grandaughter should check through her tenancy agreement and see exactly what mention there is of maintenance, and should probably check out fire regulations on the HSE website or similar. I would imagine (although I may be wrong), that the landlord/agent has to provide keys for any lockable windows but that may not be the case.
Thursday 11 July 2013 5.24pm
You could ask the local fire station to do a safety inspection..
They will carry it out for free and if they find anything untoward they will contact the owners and advise them accordingly and even prosecute if they don't comply.
Thursday 11 July 2013 8.56pm
I agree that there's an element of old rope, but as I'm married to one of the good 'uns one thing does come to mind. I think there's a common misconception around letting agents - they are hired by, and work for, the property owner, not the tenant. If the landlord has asked the agent to maintain the property then they do have a duty to sort out any problems that arise. The landlord would pay the agent a different fee for this. If however it's a 'let only' agreement then by finding and installing a tenant the agent has done their job and it's over to the landlord to sort out any issues around maintenance.

The qualification and professional body to look out for is ARLA - the good agents have done their courses and will advertise themselves as Arla qualified.

Jan I hope your granddaughter gets sorted. If she's very local to SE1 you're welcome to private message me with her address and I can discreetly ask whether my other half or contacts knows the landlord.
Friday 12 July 2013 9.05am
Hi Jan,

In short - if the property is managed by the agent then it's on them to sort it out. What this means is, the landlord pays the agent not only to rent the space, but to deal with things such as this.

If the flat is not managed then it's on the landlord. The tenant should have their contact details.
Friday 12 July 2013 1.19pm
Jan -

Picking up the fire safety issue (rather than the letting agent ones) -

Since 2002, there has been a requirement to have an escape window in all habitable rooms above ground floor. These are known as egress windows: the word egress is the opposite of access. Part B of the Building Regulations is specific about what constitutes an egress window :

Hope this is helpful.

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