Private landlords should make sure their money is held with letting agents who are part of regulated scheme, an industry body has said.

The Association of Residential Lettings Agents has warned private landlords that they could face being "ripped-off"by "cowboys"if they deposit their funds with letting agents who do not have money protection schemes in place.

With the recession having gripped the UK economy, more landlords could be considering products such as rental guarantee insurance to safeguard their income against the threat of rental arrears.

Indeed, research by the National Landlords Association in December indicated this potential demand, revealing that 71 per cent of private landlords were expecting rent arrears to increase in 2009.

Mr Potter advised private landlords to do their homework before choosing letting services and to avoid using unregulated agents.

"We know there are a lot of unregulated agents out there …To be absolutely sure you are covered, you should always go through a regulated agent,"he said.ADNFCR-2002-ID-19053121-ADNFCR

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