One of the most difficult decisions for landlords is making the choice between managing a property yourself or using the services of a professional letting agency.
There is no doubt, life is far easier and less stressful for landlords who do opt for the services of a letting agent; but then you have to make another major decision! Which letting agent should you choose?
To help you make that all-important decision, the team at the award-winning McCartan Lettings in Swansea has come up with guidelines for landlords, so they don’t end up making the wrong decision.
Protection & Regulation
To find the right agency to look after your property, you search can instantly be narrowed down by making sure you appoint an agent that has a Rent Smart Wales licenced which is required by law/ You should also check that the agency is a member of an industry regulatory body, such as ARLA or the National Approved Letting Scheme.
Letting agents who are licenced must have Client Money Protection insurance, Professional Indemnity insurance and be a member of a property Ombudsman scheme.
Rent Smart Wales is the regulatory body for the lettings industry in Wales and was introduced in 2015. All private landlords and letting agents in the private rented sector need to be registered and licensed under this scheme if they are undertaking any management activities. To become licensed, letting agents have to undergo training to become accredited under this scheme, and have the accreditation displayed at their premises. If you’re unsure if the agent is accredited, always ask for proof.
Professional letting agents will also work with a reputable tenant referencing and specialist letting insurance company, like Homelet, to ensure the best possible referencing of your prospective tenants.
Meet the Agent Face to Face
Don’t just do your search online; where possible, you should always arrange to meet the agent at their offices face-to-face or at least have a good chat over the phone. This way you will get a good feel about the way the agent works and that they are approachable, professional and honest. Above all, this will enable you to check if they are fully compliant with legislation and that they have a good understanding of the local rental market.
When you visit their offices, if they are scruffy and ill-kept, there’s a good chance that they will approach their expectations of their rental properties it the same way. If their premises are smart and modern, with helpful staff, they’re far more likely to deliver a quality service to their landlords.
And don’t be tempted by the larger agencies who offer a range of sales and lettings services. A dedicated, specialist letting agent will have a clearer focus and knowledge of the local lettings market without the distraction of sales commission!
Rental Valuation & Price
A professional and dedicated rental agency should be able to demonstrate their knowledge of the private rented sector and to provide you with an accurate rental valuation.
The agent’s representative should also be able give you advice on any issues with regards to your rental property as well as pointers on what you may need to do to the property to affect the best possible rental price.
Landlords should use this opportunity to ask as many questions as possible about the letting of your property and which service level suits you best. An experienced and knowledgeable agent should be able to give you an idea of the rental value of your property on the spot as well as the sort of costs they will charge for the different services.
Their quote should include VAT and have no hidden costs.
However, don’t base your final decision on the price of the service the agent is quoting you. The cheapest agency is unlikely to be able to deliver the best service and could end up costing you more long term.
Your choice of letting agent should be based on the agent’s reputation and recommendations from other landlords.
Landlords should also make sure they are clear about what they are getting for their money. You should rigorously check the terms and conditions of the management agreement to ensure that they include key checks such as property visits and how regularly they are carried out.
What guarantees are included that rent will be paid on time and that they will provide a regular rental statement? You should also be provided with copies of the tenancy agreement at the start of the tenancy and information about where the tenant’s deposit is held.
Importantly, if you have a large portfolio of properties and want your chosen agent to look after them all, then you must ensure they have procedures in place to manage your properties efficiently on your behalf.
Marketing Your Property
The agent you choose will want to take photos externally and internally. At this point, it is a good idea that the property is presented in a condition that is good, clean and fit for purpose. You should expect the agent to give you advice on how best to do this. The better the property looks in a professional brochure, the more enquires it will get and the quicker it will be let.
Check out the letting agent’s web site to see how they showcase other landlords’ properties; you should also check how easy they are to view on your mobile device as so many tenant searches are carried out mobiles.
A professional letting company will also have access to the UK’s largest property portals such as Rightmove and Zoopla where most tenants look for their next home. If they aren’t signed up to these platforms, then you should be concerned about how they will be able to market your property compared to other agents.
Making the Final Decision on a Professional Letting Agency
Choosing the right letting agent is one of the most important decisions to make for both new and experienced landlords.
Be aware that inexperienced or unprofessional agents can cost you both time and money. The best agent will take care of your interests and those of the tenant. In our experience the most productive results come from protecting your income, your property and your tenants.
To find out more about McCartan Lettings dedicated letting agency and professional landlord services, give us a call on 01792 430100 for a for free consultation or to arrange a visit to our Swansea offices.