Choosing a letting agent to manage your buy-to-let property can be quite daunting. Especially if you’re a first time Landlord who doesn’t want the stress of managing their property themselves. You need to make sure you choose a managing agent that can meet the required needs of you and your tenants. This will make being a landlord a much less stressful experience. With these tips we hope it makes it much easier to choose the best letting agent for you.
Why do I need a letting / managing agent?
A good letting agent will take care of your property by offering the following services:
1. Source tenants and arrange the tenancy: An agent will not only find the most suitable tenant for your property; They will collect references, carry out credit checks for potential tenants, collect any deposits and they will also produce tenancy agreements and inventories.
2. Collect rent: The letting agent will collect the rent from your tenants every month and will be instrumental in chasing any overdue payments.
3. Full Management: A good letting agent will take care of all aspects of the rental. This includes dealing with any problems or queries that a tenant may have but they will also arrange any repairs and maintenance works needed.
You should make sure that a letting agent can match your needs as a Landlord as some agencies may not offer full property management and may only offer a ‘let only’ service so will only assist with sourcing tenants, completing paperwork and collecting rent monies and will not have an ongoing relationship with tenants. Experienced Landlords may prefer a ‘let only’ service as they can have all the knowledge they need to be able to manage the property themselves, however, we always recommend a full management service especially for new Landlords.
What letting agent should I choose?
Landlords should be very careful about which letting agency they choose as ultimately the Landlord is responsible for making sure that all current government guidelines surrounding the rental industry are being met. This includes being up to date with maintenance such as gas safety checks, electrical inspections, energy performance certificates and repairs. If these needs are not met you can be charged with hefty fines or even jail sentences. So you need to choose an agent that you can trust will meet this criteria.
We recommend choosing a professional and experienced smaller family-run agency, with their own in-house maintenance team, over a big high street agent who tend to have a large turnover of contractors. The reason for this is smaller agencies should be able to provide a better service in most cases than big high street agents as these can often be more costly especially with maintenance and repairs as they charge commission, not just for collecting rent, but also for using an outside source for repairs and maintenance. Thus, becoming very costly for the landlord. Not only this but repairs and maintenance should be carried out much more quickly and efficiently than a high street agent can.
A smaller agency is also more likely to keep up with ever changing Government Legislation surrounding the rental market and will be able to provide a more personal and professional touch that bigger agents cannot recreate.
Check the subscriptions/memberships of a prospective letting agent
Landlords need to make sure that potential letting agents are members of the following schemes:
- Property Ombudsman Service or the Property Redress Scheme - This has been a legal requirement since 1st October 2014! The main purpose of a redress scheme is to allow consumers to escalate any complaints they may have against a member of the scheme, without having to use the Courts. However, consumers must have exhausted the members internal complaints process before contacting these schemes.
- You should also ask potential letting agents what Government approved tenancy deposit scheme they are a member of as this is also a legal requirement.
- Client Money Protection Scheme (CMP) – This scheme protects client money, such as rent and deposit monies, received by an agent. They make sure Landlords and Tenants are compensated in the event of an agent not being able to repay their money. A good example of this would be if an agent goes into administration. An agent must also display their CMP certificate in their offices and on their website.
Make sure to fully check the agency agreement
It is essential that you read and understand everything that is in the agency agreement. Obvious, we know, but doing this can save you a lot of financial surprises in the future.
An agency agreement will detail the services that they offer, what they expect you to do as the landlord, how much they charge, and also how the agreement can be terminated.
Finding the Best Tenants and Rent Pricing
A lettings agency will know exactly how much rent a specific property should cost each month in rent. The rent will be determined by where the house is located, how many bedrooms the property has, whether the property has been refurbished to a good standard and if the property is furnished/unfurnished. From this the agent will be able to set the rent of the property at the suitable rate.
A lettings agent will also have the best resources to be able to find a suitable tenant for a property. Most letting agents have a database of tenants waiting for properties so they will be able to find tenants as quickly as possible. They will also be able to carry out tenant referencing and credit checks to make sure the tenant is suitable and has a good history so there should be less risk of a tenant not paying their rent.
Finally, if you carry out your due diligence this can save you so much time, money, and effort having to deal with a letting agent that isn’t up to the job.