The study revealed that for those who didn’t consider whether their landlord or agent was licenced, over half (54%) said it didn’t even cross their mind to check while nearly a quarter (23%) did not know that letting agents or landlords should be licensed.
In fact one in ten (12%) wrongly assumed that all letting agents and landlords were licensed and therefore do not know the difference in standards they can expect.
The research found before they’d signed on the dotted line, more than one in five tenants (22%) had concerns about their landlord or letting agent, doubling to 43% amongst Londoners.
The most common problems faced by would-be tenants at this stage were lack of clarity around fees (8%), agents not knowing enough about the property (6%), being pushy (6%) and not turning up to appointments (6%).
While 45% haven’t had any problems with their landlord or letting agent over the past five years, over half (55%) of the tenant population have experienced at least one problem.
The most common issue which affected nearly a third of renters (31%) was the amount of time it had taken to fix any problems such as boilers, heating and electricity. Once a problem was flagged, tenants had to wait 36 days on average for the issue to be resolved and an unfortunate one in seven never had their problems sorted.
Commenting, David Cox, managing director of ARLA, said: “Our home is our castle and there is no reason for it to not be fit for a king. Just because you rent a property it should not impact your levels of enjoyment, especially as there is such a high price to pay for renting.
“For anyone looking to rent, there are basic boxes to tick to ensure you receive the best possible end result – and this starts with choosing your letting agent and landlord. Choosing an unlicensed letting agent could leave tenants with a long list of problems.
“While problems can of course arise during a tenancy agreement, using an ARLA Licenced agent gives tenants peace of mind that any issues can be dealt with in a professional and safe manner. Our research shows that some renters have learnt from their mistakes, as one in eight said they are more likely to look for a licensed letting agent in the future.
“It will only be through qualification and ongoing professional development, backed up by appropriate regulation, that we will eliminate the rogue landlords and agents who blight our industry.
“ARLA would like to see a fully regulated industry to build a better, stronger private rented sector.”