Renting an apartment – agent or landlord?


If you've ever moved apartment or house, you'll have needed to make a decision over whether to deal with the owner of the property (the 'landlord' or 'landlady') either directly or through an agent.

In this article, we discuss the pros and cons of each, so that you're ready to make an informed decision the next time you make a move.


​Key language
rent - v. or n.[u.] - /rent/ - to pay money to stay in an apartment or house or the money you pay to do this. I rent an apartment in London. I need to pay the rent every month.
let - v. - /let/ - to allow someone to rent your apartment or house. I let the apartment to a family of four.
a landlord/landlady- n.[c.] - /ˈlændlɔːd/ /ˈlændˌleɪdi/ - a man (landlord) or woman (landlady) who owns an apartment or house and lets people stay in it in exchange for rent. I need to meet the landlord to sign the contract and collect the keys.
a tenant- n.[c.] - /ˈtenənt/ - a person who rents an apartment or house.
a lettings agent/a rental agent - n.[c.] - /ˈeɪdʒənt/ - a person whose job involves managing the relationship between landlord/landlady and tenant.
a tenancy agreement - n.[c.] - /ˈtenənsi əˌɡriːmənt/ - a contract between landlord and tenant that includes details of a rental period.
Finding a suitable place
​When searching for a place to rent, you might ​start by running a search online. Some websites ​put you in direct contact with landlords/landladies. This cuts out the middle man - the agent - and can potentially save you money ​through avoiding agency fees.

​Alternatively, you may visit the website or physical buildings of 'real estate agents' - the companies that deal with selling and renting properties. ​Agents can offer a lot of benefits to both landlords/landladies and tenants, as we'll see below. However, of course, their services come at a price - often around one month of rent - and these fees will need to be paid by either the landlord, the tenant, or shared ​by both parties.

Agents vs Landlords

​Let's take a look at the benefits and drawbacks of dealing directly with the property owners or instead going through an agent.

  • ​AGENT


- Cost - No agency fees.
- Communication - You may find that you're able to communicate in a more efficient or productive manner.
- Relationship - You may find that you're able to develop a ​strong relationship with the landlord/landlady that leads to a good understanding between you.


- ​Time - ​You need to research suitable properties, arrange viewings and check the property and tenancy agreement yourself.
- ​Legal/Contractual - ​You need to research to ensure you understand your rights as a tenant, check the condition of the property, furniture and appliances, and deal with negotiations yourself.
- Relationship - ​If you don't have a smooth relationship with the landlord/landlady, you may have no choice but to continue dealing with them.

​So, what's the best choice?

Your choice depends heavily on your situation.

If you don't have much time or are unfamiliar with local tenancy laws, then it could really be worth having an agent help take the pressure off you. After describing your requirements, you could ask them to arrange a whole day of viewings and let them handle everything. You may also enjoy the security of having an agent manage the contractual aspects of your tenancy for you.

Alternatively, perhaps you already live in the same city and are familiar with how tenancy agreements are done. You may already have an idea of where you want to live or might even know the landlord already. Or perhaps you'd like to save money by taking on more of the responsibilities yourself. In these situations, you may prefer to deal directly with the landlord/landlady.

It's always good to know there are options out there for you when it comes to renting. Whatever your choice, I wish you all the best for a perfect next tenancy.

​Tell us whether you'd prefer to deal directly with the landlord/landlady or go through an agent by leaving a comment below. And why not share this article with your friends by clicking the Share button to the left (mobile) or below (desktop).