This week, I was working with clients who were relocating to the area and discovered that the home they rented was not “move-in ready”. They asked me to assist them with the process of finding a new home and also to help “resolve the lease” on the current property. While I can’t go into the specifics of how I have assisted them, I can share three thoughts on why having a tenant agent was helpful during this process.

1. “Representing Their Interests”: These days I work with a lot of potential clients who are looking at a rentals that they have seen on Zillow, Trulia, and other sites. When I show them a property, I work as a tenant agent and I tell them that it is important to be represented in case something happens. Many renters tell me that feel that they can negotiate on their own, but when I ask them if they know what the “comparables” market looks like, or what to look for in a lease, or how to research if the person they are renting from is “legit”, they get a puzzled look on their face.

When representing my client’s interests, I have helped them negotiate better terms with repair deductibles (the amount you pay if a major system fails) or a discount on the rent up front that easily saves them money that they will be able to apply to a purchase some day. And, in the case of a rental that is “not move-in ready”, it helps to have someone who knows the law, and can assist in getting the landlord to comply with it.

2. “Resources”: Agents who work with vendors to help clients with moving in and out of homes, often will negotiate exclusive discounts to assist with services like landscaping, plumbing and air conditioning. As someone who knows the cost of those services in a given area, not only can an agent save you money, but they will also get you someone who is reliable. Some recent examples of deals that I have gotten my clients include: Free Storage for a Month and $2K worth of landscaping for $500.

3. “Help When Things Go Sideways”: When considering the situation that occurred this week, it was fortuitous to be able to quickly get my client a referral to an attorney who could assist with understanding their rights. They were able to understand what their “exposure” was with walking away from a signed lease, and to make an informed decision quickly. Beyond that, I provided them multiple options with finding a new home, resulting in a new lease within two days. It just makes sense to have someone in your court who is focused on your needs when things go wrong.

On a final note, many clients don’t realize that generally a renter does not pay an agent to represent their interests. Similar to when purchasing a home, that compensation is paid by the listing agent, and the tenant agent is legally obligated to represent their client’s interests in the transaction to obtain that compensation. Beyond the legal aspect, many agents love to represent renters because they will often come back to them when they buy.

For the reasons above, I recommend the use of a tenant agent.