Should you use a letting agent or a private landlord?

Naturally we’re biased, but there are advantages and disadvantages to going direct to an private landlord compared to the more ‘traditional’ letting agent option.

Private Landlord

Advantages Disadvantages
  • No extra fees: most private landlords don’t charge extra for viewings, contracts or references
  • Direct to the owners: it’s normally faster and you may get a bit more flexibility on the property and contract as you are dealing directly with the decision maker
  • Honesty: dealing direct, you should be able to find out more about the landlord and why they are letting, who they want to let to and how long for


  • More legwork: most private landlords only have one or a few properties. You may have to try several to find a suitable one
  • Less knowledge: they may be less aware of their legal obligations
  • Less options for issues: private landlords have to use a deposit protection scheme, but other than that you may need a court to resolve disputes

Letting Agent

Advantages Disadvantages
  • More choice: most agents have a number of properties available at any one time, so you have more choice without ringing round
  • Better legal compliance: good agents know the laws, and ensure their landlords follow them
  • Access to an ombudsman: good agents are members of one of the property ombudsman services, giving you more options in the event of a dispute


  • Cost: even if they don’t charge fees it’s a cost to the owner which may be passed on to the tenants in higher rent
  • Slower response: while some are very good, you are adding an extra layer between you and the landlord which can slow everything from agreeing viewings to ongoing maintenance
  • Highly variable skill: from really good agents that will work hard to help you get the best property to those that just want to get the commission and move on

Most tenants will look for the best property for their needs, but it’s worth being aware of the advantages and disadvantages of letting agents and private landlords so you can change your search and negotiation to work with each.

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