With such a high volume of properties available on the UK housing market, it can often be overwhelming and time-consuming for prospective renters to narrow down their options.

We understand that choosing the right property is an important and life-changing step. Whether you’re renting from an agency or through a landlord, it is important to choose a property manager that is reliable, approachable and easily contactable.

But with five months to go until the act is in place, this month’s blog provides a checklist of key factors to consider when dealing with your letting agent or private landlord. In Wales, the Wales Housing Act will be introduced in September 2015 to make a real difference to the rented sector.  The act will mean all landlords and letting agents practicing in Wales have a year to obtain a license, otherwise they will not be able to practice.

Know who your point of contact is

Although going directly to a private landlord has many benefits, there are also risks associated. If a landlord has a number of properties to manage, they can be difficult to contact. Equally, some private landlords may not be accredited which can result in a number of issues, including poor standards of accommodation.

Often a landlord will appoint a letting agency to manage their property portfolio. Agencies have a responsibility to ensure their clients’ properties are being well looked after by tenants, and so will follow a rigorous process (including reference, credit checks, checking-in and checking-out inventories, administration) before a tenant moves in.

Letting agents provide a buffer between landlords and tenants if issues arise during the duration of the tenancy. As this line of communication is crucial for tenants, it is important to choose a reputable, accredited letting agent that is a member of a professional body that adheres to a code of conduct, including the Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA).

Quick to react

But regardless of whether your tenancy is with a private landlord or an agent, it’s important to ensure your point of contact is regularly available from the outset (can respond within 24 hours) to avoid lengthy delays if anything goes wrong.

If anything breaks or stops working, it is either the responsibility of the letting agent or landlord to ensure the problem is rectified as quickly as possible.

If the landlord or agent is not local to you, then its important that they have a range of specialised contacts on hand to help you fix the problem; for instance a local plumber or electrician. Details of these contacts should be shared during the early stages of your tenancy.

They put you first

It may sound cliché, but first impressions really do count. For example, when viewing a property for the first time, try to be as observant as possible. How much effort has been put into making the property look presentable? Is the property thoroughly cleaned and tidy or had added any small, yet personal touches?

Regardless of whether the property is managed by the landlord or estate agent, the answers to these questions will be an accurate representation of how they expect the property to be maintained in the future. It also indicates whether they will be prepared to go the extra mile for you and endeavor to keep the property maintained to a high standard.

The process of renting can often be stressful and overwhelming. But picking the right landlord or letting agent, will result in a less complicated and enjoyable tenancy.