How to Choose a Letting Agent to Manage my Property | 05.09.2013
Things a landlord should consider when choosing a letting agent to rent their property
Letting agents have been getting their fair share of bad press this year. With high profile fraud cases in which deposits have been lost and the release of a Government report into unreasonable letting agent fees, the industry has certainly been making waves in the news media. So with this in mind, how does a discerning landlord go about choosing a trustworthy agent to market and rent their property? We have compiled a list of questions to ask letting agents to help landlords make that all important decision in choosing a good agent.
1) Do they reference and interview tenants?
Ensuring that a letting agent routinely interviews and references prospective tenants will help reduce the risk of your property being damaged, as well as increase the chances of installing a reliable tenant in your rental home. A reputable letting agent will check the rental history of a tenant by checking any references provided, as well as meeting and talking to them face-to-face. A financial check should also be undertaken.
2) Are they affiliated with a professional organisation?
This is a very important question to ask any potential Letting Agent. Not only will an industry body have a complaints procedure, but it will also help safeguard your money. With plenty of high profile fraud cases hitting the headlines across the country this year, landlords need to ensure that tenant’s deposits are protected. As well as being part of a Client Money Protection Scheme, an agent should be affiliated with one of the following bodies:-
- Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA)
- National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA)
- Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS)
- UK Association of Letting Agents (UKALA)
3) How much will it cost me?
This depends on the level of service that a landlord requires. Most Letting Agents offer three standard packages and these differ in costs:-
- Full Management – this service typically includes marketing the property, finding a tenant, referencing a tenant and installing them in the property. The Letting agent will also take control of repairs and maintenance of the property, as well as all account issues i.e. collecting rent etc. A landlord can expect to pay a set up fee and a percentage of the rental income.
- Part Management – again, this includes marketing the property, finding a tenant, references and installing them in the property. The letting agent will collect the rent on the landlords behalf. For this level of service a landlord will typically pay a small one of fee and a smaller percentage of the rental income.
- Tenant Finding Service – this option will include marketing the property, finding a tenant, referencing a tenant and installing them in the property. Once the tenant has moved in, the landlord then deals with rent collection, repairs etc. The landlord will usually be charged a one off fee for this service.
4) Where do you advertise?
An experienced letting agent should have their own website for showing properties, but also advertise with the big property portals i.e. Right Move, Zoopla etc. Some agents also advertise in the local press and local property papers, as well as marketing properties to a client database.
5) Other questions to ask
- What can the property realistically be rented for (a letting agent should have expert knowledge about the local rental market)?
- What are your tenancy agreement terms?
- how much rent/deposit should I charge in advance?
- Are there any procedures for conducting repairs?
- What are the standard response times for tenants?
Richard Rabin, Director of Town and Country Property Letting services, said: “Choosing a letting agent to manage your property is an important decision and my advice to any landlord would be to do your homework and choose an agent that is not only affiliated with a professional, industry recognised body, but is also well established. The key is to ask plenty of questions to find out what service they offer and how much it will cost, but most importantly to use a reputable agent that is part of a money protection scheme.”
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