What Should Landlords Look for in a Letting Agent?

As a landlord it is important to choose your letting agent carefully as the range of services they offer can differ considerably. With so many letting agents out there, both national providers and locally based independent companies, it is well worth shopping around to find an agent you feel comfortable with. There’s no recommendation quite as strong as word of mouth. It’s one thing to boast of ‘low rates or first class service’ in your website copy, but those are just words. The actual experiences of a colleague or friend carry far more weight. student property letting

One of the first checks is to make sure the letting agent is a registered member of a professional organisation as this will provide you with additional protection. The Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA), the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) and the National Association of Estate Agents have established codes of practice which must be adhered to as a term of membership.

Which services should landlords look for?

Most letting agents will provide both a simple letting service as well as ongoing management of the let. The service you choose will depend on how much control you wish to have over the process. A letting service alone will include the marketing of your property, organising viewings and the preparation of all the relevant legal documentation; once tenants are in the property the service will cease. If you’re a landlord by trade you might prefer to keep a higher degree of control over your property, attending to the ongoing upkeep yourself.

Many landlords choose to hedge their bets by appointing more than one letting agent. As many agents offer a ‘no let, no fee’ service, it is possible to use competing agents and only paying the fee of the letting agent that manages to fill your property. It may well be that particular letting agents have a waiting list of potential tenants looking for just the type of property you are offering, in which case viewings can be arranged as soon as the property is made available.

Certain letting agents are likely to be more popular amongst certain tenant types, so it is well worth carrying out a bit of research. If the house or flat you’re looking to let is perfect for students, find out where the local students search for houses. A simple phone call to the university will likely provide you with all the information you need.

Fees in the industry can differ wildly so it is essential you are clear what you are signing up for before you do so. Typically fees range from 10 – 15 per cent of the total rental income over the term of the tenancy for a let only service, whilst full management fees will usually start from at 15% and upwards. The let only fee covers the cost of marketing the property, finding and vetting tenants, sourcing references and preparing all the necessary legal documents. Management fees will cover the cost of the aforementioned, along with credit checks, the collection of rental payments, inspection of the property and the associated ongoing maintenance costs.