Truth be told, we do recommend that all landlords use a letting agent, unless being a landlord is something that you are prepared to, and able to, do full time. Contrary to what most people think, there is more to being a landlord than simply finding tenants and receiving rent payments. This is often a mistake made by new landlords, underestimating just exactly what is involved in being a good landlord, for the sake of both your tenant, and your property investment.
Letting agents are there to manage your property for you, on your terms, however they are also there to provide advice. They will know the market in the local area inside out, and be able to advise you on the type of tenants you are likely to get, what they expect in a property, as well as what rent you should be charging. This kind of support is invaluable for a new landlord, especially one who is unfamiliar with the local area or demographic.
There is a lot of paperwork and legal responsibility that comes with being a landlord. You have to be super organised, keeping up with the legal requirements regarding Gas Safety Certificates, Carbon Monoxide Monitoring, Smoke Alarms, and so on. You need to have landlord insurance on your property also, and failure to keep up with your responsibilities as a landlord can in fact invalidate your insurance policy. If you are not someone who is good at the paperwork side of things, as well as being organised with renewing such administration, then you must use a letting agent to manage this for you.
What about fees? You may ask. Many landlords see agent fees as profit they are loosing from their own pocket. However, an empty property ends up loosing way more money that you would spend on letting agent fees. Similarly, so does rent arrears, property damage, fines, and other things that can occur as a direct consequence of inexperience at finding, vetting and letting to tenants.
It is in the letting agent's best interests to find you good tenants, as quick as they can, and to keep the rent flowing in, as they are making money from the tenancy too. The more efficient the letting agent is, the better financial reward for both parties.
Why Should New Landlords use a Letting Agent?
There are many reasons why a new landlord should use a letting agent, and everyone will have their own reasons for deciding to hire one. However, if you are asking the question – why should new landlords use a letting agent? Here are a some reasons right here;
They will find you good tenants. A good letting agent will have experience when it comes to finding good tenants. They will know how to advertise in a professional manner, and attract the right tenants for your property and rental price range. A letting agent will also take care of vetting potential tenants by obtaining and checking references, as well as ensuring that they are in a stable financial position.
They will undertake all administration. There is certain administration that for a landlord is compulsory, and this is something that a good letting agent will take off your hands, putting your mind at rest that you are doing everything you are required to do by law. This also includes taking care of the tenancy agreement.
They will professionally manage the holding deposit. A letting agent will manage all the paperwork relevant to holding the tenants deposit, and adhere to the guidelines of the 'secure deposit protection scheme'.
They will carry out a full inventory. Whether you are letting your property out furnished or unfurnished, an inventory should still be carried out. This is a legally binding document that the tenant will sign as part of their tenancy agreement upon moving into the property. This will include furniture, furnishings, as well as the conditions of the floor, walls, doors, and so on, to ensure that the landlord is protected against potential damage and repairs.
They will deal with the tenants. From showing prospective tenants around during viewings, to carrying out the handover of the keys, a letting agent can carry out these time consuming jobs. They will be able to deal with any queries from the tenants on an ongoing basis regarding repairs and so on too, which can also be extremely inconvenient for landlords who also have other work and commitments.
A letting agent will collect the rent. Using a letting agent as a middle man in order to collect the rent from tenants has many advantages; it takes any personal relations and involvement out of the equation, they have the experience in dealing with late payers and disputes, and should it come to it, they have the legal expertise in proceeding with evictions.
The Importance of Choosing a Good Letting Agent
By choosing an established and reputable letting agent to manage your property and to act on your behalf as a landlord will prove beneficial right from the very start. In the beginning, they will know how to advertise and present your property in a professional fashion – this can include anything from newspaper adverts, 'to let' boards and online exposure. The quicker that you have tenants in your property paying rent, the better.
Some letting agents will offer their services on a 'no let, no fee' basis, however every circumstance is different, and the cheapest fees are not necessarily the best. Overall, you should be looking for professionalism, competency, testimonials from other landlords and so on.
A good letting agent will be accommodating to you as a landlord, and allow you to sit down and discuss your needs with them. While a full property management service is often recommended, some landlords may just require a letting agent to find and vet tenants, or collect the rent for example.
A good agent will be associated with regulatory bodies and/or protection schemes, such as Safe Agent, which is a form of client money protection insurance. This insures against money being lost, protecting both the landlord and the tenant from loosing rental payments and holding deposits through the unscrupulous activity or the liquidation of a letting agent.
The Importance of Letting Agent Inspections
Landlord Inspections are vital, especially for new tenants, and letting agents such as ourselves can carry out an inspection on your property after the initial six weeks of a tenant being in, to be followed up then every three months. Different landlords and letting agents will deem it necessary to conduct property inspections at various intervals, some choose to do so every 6 months, and those with long term tenants where a trust and relationship has been built might inspect it every year or two. Some may not do it at all, but this is where you would be failing both parties, tenant and landlord, as it is important to ensure that you are both on the same page as regards the condition and the upkeep of the property. By inspecting the property, you can rest assured that your investment is being looked after and is protected.
Letting agent inspections, or landlord inspections, are not just to check up on whether the tenants are treating the property properly, it is also an opportunity to check that everything is working as it should, and see if the tenants have any problems. Good tenants will have no problem with a landlord or a letting agent inspection on a regular basis, as they are familiar with this being a formality in renting a property.
A landlord must allow for wear and tear of a property, and so will benefit from seeing, or hearing about, the place being lived in over a period of time. You will be able to see the state of the walls and flooring and redecorate and replace items should this be necessary. As a landlord, you have obligations in this department of property upkeep as well as the tenant.
How To Find a Good Letting Agent
As with most services, word of mouth and personal recommendation is the best way to find out about a good reputable letting agent. Not all letting agents will have the same amount of experience and competency, and despite there being many decent letting agents out there, there are few really really good ones.
Never just go with the first letting agent that you come across. It is definitely worthwhile looking around, and also look for testimonials, often which can be found online. Don't be afraid to contact some people behind the reviews and ask further questions, it is important that you make the correct decision for you.
Interview various letting agents before committing to the individual or business that you will hire to look after your best interests and your property. Signing up with a good letting agent should be seen as an investment, just as your property letting venture is, and the whole point is for you to have peace of mind that everything is being taken care of.