The Role of a Rental Agent
What is the role of an agent when leasing a property?
There is often confusion about where an agent’s role ends when it comes to leasing out a property for a landlord or when serving a tenant. Sometimes, landlords are unhappy with their agents over a perceived lapse in duty. In this article, we clarify just exactly what falls under the duties of a real estate agent and what constitutes aftersales service.
Under the Council for Estate Agencies (CEA), the official statement says:
In a rental transaction, your property agent should:
- Advise you on your eligibility to rent out or rent a room
- Arrange for property viewings
- Represent you in negotiations with interested prospective parties
- Forward you all offers from interested parties or their property agents promptly
- Assist you to enter into a binding agreement, plus explain all relevant forms and documents to you
“Your property agent’s services are completed when the responsibilities as stated in the Estate Agency Agreement have been delivered. In general, the scope of estate agency work does not include other services relating to the lease of a property, such as the maintenance and repair of the property or attending to disputes between the landlord and tenant. For such matters, you should negotiate with the other party on the lease, using the relevant clauses in your tenancy agreement.”
Basically, this means that the duties of an agent are related to advising their clients and facilitating the rental of the unit. He may also help to verify the work permit statuses of potential tenants. When the agent has procured a tenant for the landlord, has completed the paperwork (letter of intent, tenancy agreement, inventory list) and has handed over the unit, his duty ends.
How is it that many agents seem to take on much more then? It is common to hear of agents taking care of repairs, attending to demands by the tenants, doing a handback of the unit and even settling disagreements between tenants and landlords during the term of the lease. All these duties fall under property management and in many countries, an extra fee is charged by companies specializing in managing leases.
In Singapore, agents take on these duties upon themselves in a gesture of goodwill. They hope that their good service will encourage their client to continue to work with them on subsequent transactions. If you use a good agent, oftentimes, the agent will liaise with your tenant throughout the term of the lease, cushioning disputes and deflecting unreasonable demands on your behalf. However, do bear in mind that your agent is not obligated to do any of these.
When agents serve tenants, their scope of work will include:
- Discussion on suitable properties
- Shortlisting units
- Arranging viewings
- Negotiating the price and terms
- Handling paperwork such as Letter of Intent, Tenancy Agreement
An agent’s duty ends when the deal is done. However, it is common for agents to assist tenants with applying for utilities and stamping the Tenancy Agreement. Subsequently during the lease, agents may advise their clients over interpretation of contractual terms and help to arrange for repairs or issues that surface.
An agent’s experience in selecting suitable units and chauffeuring services will save tenants much time and mistakes. They also value-add by vetting through the Tenancy Agreement to look for discrepancies and unusual clauses.
We hope this article has been enlightening over how agents can add value to your transaction, as well as what the scope of agents entails. For assistance, do contact our consultants on HomeReward.
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