If you are looking for privately rented accommodation there are any number of pitfalls that could leave you both homeless and severely out of pocket. They can be avoided with a little knowledge. As we have pointed out the letting industry is totally unregulated and quite how many letting agencies there are is anyone's guess.

From the biggest, have a look at the cutting from The London Evening Standard, to the smallest essentially short term fraudster operating out of an office rented by the week there is no guarantee that what you see is necessarily what you are going to get.

As can be seen from the Evening Standard sometimes a letting agency either gets too big to manage its portfolio or the employees are on salaries and they are paid in spite of their performance. At Mourne we pay ourselves out of what we earn, no satisfied customers, no salary. Simples!

Having said that the industry is unregulated it does also make it very competitive so that we are conscious that if we are going to keep customers, and that is what tenants are, we have to provide a service that is superior to our competitors. What then can you expect?

The first thing is that we will have done a survey of any properties that we are offering and if the relevant gas, electricity and Houses in Multiple Occupation ( HMO) certificate are not in existence or are out of date we will make sure that they are obtained or renewed before you view the accommodation.

One of the biggest nightmares for a tenant is the question of deposits. We are members of the biggest residential landlords association in the country the RLA which represents not just private owners but hundreds of local councils. The RLA lobbies on behalf of both private landlords and social housing providers and one of the leading campaigns at the moment is to have the industry regulated, so far without success.

As members of the RLA we are bound by codes of conduct and the law. We must observe the provisions of the Housing Act 2004 which was passed after many years of complaints from tenants that their deposits were being misappropriated. We must under the provisions of that Act keep your deposits in a separate client account with insurance. We can identify your deposit at any time by our internal accounting procedures. We are also able to hold deposits on your behalf even if you are with a landlord that we have not introduced you to.

As a part of your contract we outline our system for dealing with complaints. In our experience problems arise when there is ambiguity in what both sides expect. We tell you exactly what will happen with our internal system and our membership of The Property Ombudsman scheme means that you can go to a government department for final arbitration which is binding on both sides.

And finally what do we expect from you? As members of a professional association we are bound, as we have said, by codes of conduct and the law. Increasing, as a result of organised crime and terrorism , people are being asked to prove their identities across a wide range of situations and residential lettings is no exception.

Also as a service to the landlords we represent we want to know that you will be a good tenant with the ability to pay the rent on time and look after the landlords property. We will check with a credit reference agency and may also ask for references from other people who know you. This service is included in our fee and you will be provided with a copy.

We hope that our presentation and the services we off puts us a cut above other agencies offering similar services, we certainly think so but we would say that wouldn't we? Give us a call or preferably an email about your requirements, areas of choice and dates that you would like to rent for and we can quote you on fees. It costs nothing to ask.