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2nd October 2018

Getting the most from your agent

A recent report by home.co.uk has revealed that there has been a 12% drop in rental listings over the past 12 months, which is creating somewhat of a ‘rental drought’. 

While stock levels have reduced, Tenant demand remains as high as ever, and this means in the short and medium term, the lettings sector is expecting to see a surge in rental prices, indicating a higher return for Landlords. However, numerous Landlords are missing out, because they are either not getting the best advice from their Agent or are choosing to manage their property themselves.

Many Landlords manage their property entirely on their own and do it very well. However, others find it far more convenient and cost-effective to employ a Letting Agent.

Considering what your Landlord responsibilities are, and whether you feel able to manage all of them alone, should help you to figure out whether you want to use an Agent or not.

So why do Landlords use letting agents, and could it work for you?

In this article Peter Lee, Director responsible for Lettings at Redbrik discusses the pros and cons of using a Letting Agent and offers advice on how to choose the one that is right for you.

You may want to use a Letting Agent if:

  • You do not have a lot of spare time
  • You would prefer for someone else to deal with Tenants’ queries and to handle their problems
  • You are a new Landlord and want some professional help
  • You are not aware of all relevant Landlord regulations and legislation
  • You are letting a property out in a different area from where you live
  • You want to ensure you are achieving the market value year on year

Letting Agents typically offer three levels of service:

  1. Finding Tenants and arranging the let: for a one-off fee, a letting agent will find Tenants for your property. Once they have found potential Tenants, they will also collect references, carry out credit checks, collect deposits and draw up tenancy agreements and inventories. The fee will be negotiable, but usually it will be anything up to a month’s rent.
  2. Rent collection: the Letting Agent will collect the rent from your Tenants each month and chase any late payments. A typical fee for this service is 7% of your monthly rent.
  3. Full management: the Letting Agent manages all aspects of the rental and are the point of contact for both Tenant and Landlord. This includes not just the rent collection but also dealing with maintenance and repair work and carrying out regular inspections. You can typically expect to pay between 10 and 15% of your monthly rent for this service.

If you decide to use a Letting Agent, make sure you do your homework:

  1. Are they a member of a professional standards body? The main ones are ARLA (Association of Residential Lettings Agents), UKALA (UK Association of Accredited Lettings Agents) and NALS (National Approved Lettings Scheme)
  2. Get a recommendation
  3. Find an Agent that is experienced in letting property like yours
  4. Fees aren’t everything – a rock-bottom fee may mean the Agent is looking to cut corners. Poor service or marketing could cost you more money in the long run
  5. Mystery shop the Agent
  6. Marketing – a property without a Tenant will cost you money, so make sure the Letting Agent will be very pro-active in finding a suitable Tenant as soon as possible after they are instructed. Check that they are listing properties on all the leading internet portal such as Rightmove, Zoopla and OnTheMarket.com. Find out if they already have Tenants on their books who will be interested in the property.

Where Letting Agents can also prove their worth is through the personal connection. Communication is a crucial part of estate agency, and this is often lost when different people do different parts of the lettings service. I often hear that Landlords don’t want to deal with separate people for the marketing, someone else for management, a different person for accounts as it becomes incredibly disjointed.

Redbrik’s service is different as we allocate one person who will deal with all aspects of the rental. The same Negotiator you deal with on day one is the same person to carry out viewings, to agree the let, to arrange and complete the sign-up. This continues with our Fully Management Service – your Negotiator will then carry out the inspections, checkouts and deal with all maintenance enquiries. We believe in one contact for our clients.

When you do instruct a Letting Agent it is essential to ensure that they are working hard for you and your property year on year.

The rental market has changed significantly over the last few years with rent increasing at approximately 5% per annum in some areas. Therefore, it is essential to evaluate whether you are achieving the maximum rent continuously. I see so many properties put back on the market at the same rent as the year before, yet they could be let for £50 or even £100 or more PCM higher.

After a Tenant has moved out, it is important to assess the condition of the property. We will always advise if something needs replacing, changing or if redecoration is required. This way applications are generated quickly and at the current market rate, not just at the same price asked previously. We tend to recommend that a property is redecorated every three years – this can make a big difference to the rental value, will ensure a quicker let and results typically in the Tenant keeping the property in better condition.

If your current Agent isn’t coming up with answers, the maximum rent value, or the right Tenants, then move on quickly and make sure you give Redbrik a call!