In a climate where demand is greater than supply, it can be as exciting as it is nerve-racking when you get a notification that a property you like has just come on the market. The location is perfect, it’s available when you need it, the photos show the property in its best light and the floor plan shows it has enough space for the extra large sofa you’ve always wanted and cowhide rug. The only problem is you can’t view the property for a number of days and you’re afraid you may miss your chance. What can you do?
It may be tempting to think that you don’t need to view a property but you really do. A viewing is essential not only because you need to see for yourself that everything checks out, but also for the agent or landlords liability should something not quite pan out. If you weren’t satisfied with the size of the fridge, or the view from the bedroom window, for example, that is something that would have been picked up on through a viewing. In addition, Letting Agents have a responsibility to the landlord to ensure they get the best price possible and create a tenancy with the least amount of risk. This is achieved by having multiple viewings and presenting offers to the landlord so they can make a decision on whether they are happy to proceed.
For this reason, paying a ‘holding deposit’ to temporarily secure a property for you specifically to withhold providing the landlord with other offers wouldn’t be possible.
In addition, although not necessarily directly related, the Accommodation Agencies Act 1953 enforced by Trading Standards specifically prevents an agent from taking a deposit or fee from a potential tenant if it is not directly related to a specific property they plan to rent, or for any service related to finding a property to rent.
What you can do, however, is have a representative view the property on your behalf such as a relocation agent, or close friend. If you’re willing to put your trust in them, then your offer would be considered and put to the landlord.