Looking for a rental property – good and bad agents

real estate, tips for buyers and renters  /   /  By Aaron

When looking for a rental property, one key thing to remember is that you’re also interviewing the real estate agent. While you may assume the agent will do their job, this isn’t always the case. Like all careers, there are some people in real estate who, as harsh as this is to say, don’t care about their work as long as there’s pay at the end for them.

Can agents help you find good rental property?

You could have a good experience with an agent, as I have had a few times. There’s a problem with the gas, ring up and there’s someone there to solve the problem within a day or two. An agent like this you want to keep on your good side by being a good tenant and not pushing their goodwill. If you have an appointment with them, be there on time. If the rent will be late, let them know. Showing common courtesy to keep on their good side is important with any agent, especially a good one. A good agent can be someone who helps you find your next rental property, or you may be able to speak to the agent if the rent is going to be raised and negotiate. With one agent I had, due to having a good rapport with them, built from being considerate and upfront with everything, I was able to arrange an internet connection and a couple of extra upgrades in exchange for a raise in the rental price. If I didn’t have that rapport there from showing myself to be a good tenant, I wouldn’t have been able to negotiate with the agent as I did, and the agent wouldn’t have negotiated with the landlord on my behalf. I would have just had my rent raised with receiving any benefits from the higher cost.

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A bad agent can be a real headache, however. A friend of mine is in a current rental property, and has been there for years. The friend has complained for years about a faulty electricity meter that ends up making the electricity bills twice, sometimes three times the price of what it should be. The agent, in a lot of ways, doesn’t do anything for the renter when they ring up and make inquires. The friend complains that the agent only gives lip service, saying they’ll do this or look into that but nothing ends up happening. With the electricity, this is costing the renter a lot of extra money, but that doesn’t seem to matter to the agent or the landlord. All it seems the agent cares for is that the rent is in on time. No one wants an agent like that, who completely ignores you unless the rent is due. An agent’s job is more than just collecting rent, and the rental property to those who live in it is their home. May be a short time, or a lengthy period, but it is a home nonetheless. A person’s home is important to them, and it is an agent’s job to make sure the home is in a working order. The agent, it’s worried, will try to keep as much as the bond as possible back from the tenant. The agent may not, but after living in this property for years, and having the experiences with the agent the renter has, there’s a worry there that the bond could disappear. Which would mean that thousands of dollars would be lost due to the broken electricity meter plus hundreds lost in bond money.

 

A real estate agent isn’t there just to collect money from you, or to fight you for every cent of your bond. As I said in the first paragraph, when you’re looking for a rental property you’re also interviewing the agent. Use the connections you have, speak to family and friends to find out their experiences with agents, perhaps they know one they can refer you to who will do their job and take care of your home. Take advantage of the internet, see if you can find any reviews or comments from previous renters. When with an agent, question them as you look over a property. Ask questions about previous tenants to see what they say, like how in a job interview if you’re asked about past employers going on a negative rant about a past boss isn’t a good look. An agent that speaks negatively of a previous tenant may have been the problem, not the tenant (Could have been both. A bad tenant and a bad agent could lead to a very bad situation.). Maybe speak to others in the building, if it’s an apartment, to find out their experiences with the agent. If one of your potential neighbors starts citing problems that are never fixed and always mentioned, it’s likely that the agent isn’t doing their complete job. An agent is a go between for tenant and landlord, not just a rent collector for a landlord. Building a rapport with the agent helps a lot, and if you are having trouble building any kind of rapport with the agent as look for a property before renting could mean that a distance remains there. The rental property will be your home for however long, and it makes sense that you should be just as comfortable with the agent as you are in your home.

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