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Complaining about a letting agency

This page gives some advice and tips if you want to complain about a letting agency (also known as accommodation or management agencies).

What can I complain about?

Letting agencies are private businesses that are run to make a profit. Read our page on letting agencies for more information on what they are, how they work and how to find one.

If you're a tenant and you're dealing with a letting agency, your landlord will either be:

  • the letting agency itself, or
  • a private landlord who's paying the letting agency to look after their property and rent it out to you.

Whatever the situation is, you don't have to put up with bad service or unfair treatment from a letting agency and you can complain about anything you're not happy with, including:

  • bad service
  • rude members of staff at the agency
  • being charged an illegal premium
  • the state of your accommodation if you're already a tenant (see 'how do I complain about repairs' below).

Should I make a complaint?

It may be possible to sort out problems by speaking to the agency directly - you might find that the problem is simply due to a misunderstanding and the agency will be happy to sort it out.

Be careful about making complaints if you've got a short assured tenancy. An agency can't end your tenancy just because you've made a complaint, so you shouldn't feel that you need to put up with bad service or face eviction. On the other hand, bear in mind that it's fairly easy for the agency to bring a short assured tenancy to an end, provided they follow all the legal procedures correctly.

If you've made a complaint and the agency is trying to evict you without following the correct procedure, this may well be an illegal eviction. If you're in this situation, get specialised advice immediately. Our Advice Services Directory can point you in the direction of an agency that can help.

Who should I complain to?

Most letting agencies will have a formal complaints procedure in place. Any agency that's a member of a letting organisation (such as ARLA, the Association of Residential Letting Agents, or NALS, the National Approved Letting Scheme) or accreditation scheme should have a complaints process, which they should tell you about when you start your tenancy.

Contact the letting agency to find out:

  • whether they have a complaints procedure
  • if they do, what it is and how you can get a copy
  • what you should do next.

If there isn't a formal complaints procedure, you can put your complaint in writing. In your letter, you'll need to include:

  • your name and contact details
  • what you're complaining about (including times and dates of things that have happened)
  • the names and jobs of anyone in the agency that you're complaining about
  • what you'd like to be done about it (for example, an apology or a rent rebate).

You should also ask for a response in writing from the agency within a certain time period (for example, two weeks) and make sure you keep copies of any letters you send to or receive from the agency.

What if I'm not happy with the response I get?

Getting advice

If the letting agency isn't giving you the information you need, or if you feel they're ignoring you or not taking you seriously, you should get advice as soon as possible. Our Advice Services Directory will help you to find an agency that can:

  • tell you what your rights are
  • speak to, or write to, the letting agency on your behalf
  • try to sort out the problem between you and the letting agency.

Complaining to a member organisation

The letting agency may be a member of the Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA), the National Approved Lettings Scheme (NALS) or Landlord Accreditation Scotland. If the agency is signed up to any of these organisations, they'll probably have the organisation's logo on their headed paper, or displayed in the window of their offices.

If a letting agency is signed up, it means they've agreed to keep to certain standards when managing properties and dealing with tenants. If you don't think they're meeting these standards, you can make a complaint to the relevant organisation, through their official complaints process.

Complaining to the Property Ombudsman

If your estate agent is a member of the Property Ombudsman, you can contact the Ombudsman to complain. The Ombudsman is an independent body that can help you if you've lost money because your estate agent:

  • has overcharged you
  • infringed your legal rights
  • broke the Ombudsman's code of practice
  • treated you unfairly
  • acted inefficiently.

The Ombudsman will settle the dispute for you and decide whether or not the estate agent should pay you compensation. Visit the Property Ombudsman to find out more.

Can the council help me?

If the letting agency you rent from owns the property you live in, they must be registered with the council as a private landlord. If they're acting on the behalf of a private landlord, they can apply for registration, but this isn't compulsory. You can find out whether they're registered by checking the online landlord register or contacting the council.

If the letting agency you're dealing with is registered with the council, you can complain if:

  • there's a problem with antisocial behaviour coming from a property they're renting out, or
  • you have reason to believe that the agency isn't a 'fit and proper person' to be registered.

You can also complain if you know that the letting agency owns the property but isn't registered with the council.

You can find out more about landlord registration here.

How do I complain about repairs?

If your complaint concerns repairs or safety issues, read the section on repairs in private rented accommodation to find out how to deal with the situation.

What if a letting agency is discriminating against me or harassing me?

If you feel a letting agency has discriminated against you because of your gender, race, sexual orientation or gender identity, or because you're disabled, for example, by refusing to let property to you or treating you less favourably than other tenants, or if staff at the agency have been harassing you in any way, you may be able to take action against them. The section on discrimination and harassment explains this in more detail.

Scotland map Housing laws differ between Scotland and England.
This content applies to Scotland only.
Get advice if you're England

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