What to Look for in a Letting Agent
Letting your property is not always as easy as it may seem, as many Landlords underestimate the amount of work associated with managing a property. Since many Landlords buy property for investment purposes and still have full time jobs, it’s often difficult to find the time to keep up with the day to day events connected with the management of the property. This is why it’s best to use the services of a professional Letting Agent to ensure the tenancy runs as smoothly as possible, whilst ensuring your investment is still making you a profit.
To help Landlords ensure they choose the right Letting Agent, we have listed the criteria that you should check:
Ensure the Letting Agent Trades From Retail Premises and not Home Based Retail Premises
Not only give traceability and confirms the agents establishment, but also gives potential tenants the confidence that they are dealing with a reputable business and not a one-man band. Often home operated businesses operate below the radar and may not be compliant with the Local Trading Standards guidelines or have adequate (if any) professional indemnity insurance.
Ensure the Letting Agent has Considerable Experience
Recently we have seen a purge of Estate Agents stuck for cash flow move into Letting’s out of desperation without any concrete experience in the industry. Again, if a Letting Agent hasnot been around for 5 years or more, then the chances are they have not the experience needed to manage properties and deal with all situations.
Ensure the Letting Agent is Established and has a Decent Sized Managed Portfolio
This in itself will illustrate satisfied customers. A healthy letting agent will managed well in excess of 100 properties for other Landlords as well as having a good selection of available property. Ensure the Letting Agent is a member of a relevant trade association or accreditation scheme that is recognise in the Letting’s Industry, such as; ARLA or The Property Ombudsman, as a member of one of these schemes the Agent must adhere to strict codes of practice to ensure they are a trustworthy agent.
Ensure the Letting Agent is a Member of an Approved Tenancy Deposit Scheme
Since April 2007 it has been a legal requirement that all Tenancy Deposits are registered under a Government approved scheme. The ultimate responsibility for this lies with the Landlord and penalties for not securing a deposit correctly are usually three times the value of the deposit held.
Ensure the Letting Agent Advertises in the Right Places
Professional Letting Agents have access to the relevant advertising resources to ensure effective marketing of the property, as well as a large database of prospective Tenants, so properties can be let as quickly as possible. When choosing a Letting Agent ensure they use the correct media for advertising online. Professional Letting Agents use subscription property uploading portals such as ‘Rightmove and Property Finder’. Unfortunately some unscrupulous Agents will try to do things economically and advertise on free website’s which usually attract the wrong type of Tenants.
Ensure That the Letting Agent Performs Credit Checks on Potential Tenants
Most Agents use a Referencing Company to obtain a Credit Check and Reference Report for each prospective Tenant, and guarantor where applicable; this will ensure all potential Tenants are checked for their suitability and rent affordability before they are permitted to sign a Tenancy Agreement.
Professional Letting’s Agents are kept up to date with all the relevant legislation that surrounds the Letting’s Industry and therefore can provide current information to Landlords to ensure their property is kept compliant. Letting Agents will also have good knowledge of legal procedures, as well as access to legal notices, so the Landlord is covered for any eventuality that may occur during the Tenancy. Again, this is often not the case when Landlords deal with home-based operations or Estate Agents new to lettings.
Ensure the Letting Agent has the Support of a Network of Qualified Tradespeople
If something goes wrong with the property, then speed is of the essence especially when a Tenant is in situ, therefore it is paramount that the Letting Agent has a network of qualified and trusted tradespeople. If the Letting Agent is established with a large portfolio of managed properties, then prices should be competitive for maintenance as well as additional services such as Gas Safety Certificates and Energy Performance Certificates for example – which again are legal requirements.
Again down to choosing an experienced Letting Agent, but ensure the Letting Agent carried out Inventories, regular property inspections and move-out inventories. So many don’t! It’s paramount that who ever you appoint to manage your property protects your investment.
Advice from Landlords
Another good pointer is if the Letting Agents also owns rental properties themselves, if they do, then all the better as they will have first hand experience from both sides of the fence and be able to understand your needs much better. Equally, they will be able to offer guidance on which type of properties, and areas, are the most popular with Tenants, as well as the rental values the Landlord is likely to achieve.