First, find out whether the letting agency has an internal complaints procedure that you can use to complain (larger ones do).
If it doesn’t, write to the agency's manager, making it clear why you are complaining and what resolution you are looking for.
Remember to keep copies of any written correspondence, including letters and emails, for your records.
One good thing about dealing with letting agents is that they have to be part of an approved redress scheme. This has been a legal requirement since 1 October 2014.
Redress schemes can help you resolve a dispute between you and your letting agent.
Both landlords and tenants can complain to these schemes, which help to mediate disputes between landlords, letting agents and tenants over letting agent failings.
If you've exhausted the letting agency’s internal complaints procedure and are not satisfied with its response, you can take your complaint to one of these schemes.
All letting agencies must clearly state which scheme they are members of. The government-backed schemes are:
The Ombudsman Services Property was discontinued in August 2018.
If your agent was a member of this scheme, it must join an alternative scheme.
Local councils can issue a fixed penalty fine of up to £5,000 to a branch of a letting agency that has not joined a redress scheme.
Find out whether your agent is a member of a trade body or professional association.
The main trade bodies for letting agents are:
These organisations have codes of practice that agents must follow and usually have an arbitration service to help resolve complaints.
So, if you’re not happy with the way a letting agent has dealt with your complaint, you can try taking the matter up with its trade body.
These organisations can only take up your complaint if you have not started a court action.
If your agent is not a member of a professional organisation, or if you're still unhappy, there are still some ways to further your complaint.
A letting agent may have breached the Consumer Rights Act if it:
From 1 November 2013, all letting agents in England, Wales and Northern Ireland must advertise all fees and charges upfront in their adverts, whether online or in print.
This doesn't stop letting agents charging high fees, but does mean that they must tell you about them upfront.
Read the ASA’s policy on rental fee adverts for more information.
You should get help from a legal professional before doing this.
In small claims court, you'll only usually be able to claim for amounts less than £10,000 (in England and Wales), £5,000 in Scotland and £3,000 Northern Ireland.
You will also have to pay a fee depending on the amount you’re claiming for.