The dilemma facing any property investor is whether they should manage the property letting process themselves or use the services of a professional letting agency.
A number of buy-to-let landlords are happy to take on the management of their rental property themselves but not all understand the complexities of this process. Once they do, more often than not, they prefer to switch to a lettings agency to take away the headache of dealing with tenants and property maintenance issues.
Why? Property landlords who opt to manage their own lettings find themselves on constant call and having their precious time taken up by dealing with day-to-day tenant issues. What’s more, if robust contracts, regular property checks and a whole host of other management processes are not in place, then landlords can find themselves out of pocket too.
So once the decision is made to switch to one of the many letting agencies around, what should a property landlord be looking for?
Firstly, a property investor needs to understand that a professional letting agency will normally offer two levels of service to landlords:
- Let Only Service
- Full Management Service
Let Only Service for Property Landlords
A letting agency’s ‘let only’ service should include:
- Producing the letting particulars for the rental property in question, including an assessment of the local market (due diligence) to ensure the rental price is in line with similar properties in the area. (Experienced landlords will have a good idea of the sort of rent they can achieve but it’s important to ensure that the letting agency of choice is also aware of the market in which they are operating).
- Advising the landlord of all current legislative requirements that will be required of them and best practice procedures to ensure a smooth tenancy, such as having a landlords gas safety certificate, electrical safety certificate, professional inventory service.
- Marketing the rental property both in their business premises and online, ideally on a mobile responsive website as most searches are now done on mobile devices. These days there are a number of online letting agencies who don’t have premises which is perfectly acceptable as most marketing by professional letting agencies should be carried out online through national letting sites such as Rightmove and Zoopla.
However having an office you can walk into and speak to a dedicated member of staff about your property can be beneficial. Established letting agencies may also advertise properties to rent in the local media, many of which have specific pages dedicated to property matters.
- Vetting prospective tenants and conducting the viewings of the property.
- Carrying out referencing of tenants and providing the relevant checks to ensure the tenants are able to afford the rent and have no history of missed payments, for example.
- Providing an up-to-date Assured Shorthold Tenancy Agreement; take the first rental payment and deposit payment.
- Carrying out the hand over process of the rental property to the approved tenants.
Letting Agency Managed Service
A managed service by a letting agency will include all of the above as well as:
- Dealing with the day to day management of the tenants and property maintenance
- Managing contractor visits, arranging quotes for Landlords’ approval and payment of contractor invoices
- Notifying all utilities and other relevant organisations of change of tenancy
- Carrying out regular checks, usually quarterly, to ensure the tenants are maintaining the property up to the expected standards.
- Taking monthly payments on behalf of the landlord; preparing monthly and annual statement of accounts.
- Paying the rental deposit into the Deposit Protection Scheme and issuing prescribed information to the tenants as required by law.
- Acting as the first point of contact for the tenants on any issues that may arise.
- Issuing of notices for possession or rental increases
- Organising and preparing renewals of tenancy
- Preparing and managing the complete end of tenancy process.
Letting Agency Fees
Professional letting agencies usually charge in one of two ways which normally relate to the amount of rent charged.
Option one: the lettings agency will charge a fee relating to a multiple of the weekly rent, typically two weeks plus VAT to set a tenancy up.
Option two: some letting agencies charge a landlord a percentage of the rent due for the length of the tenancy period, typically 10% plus VAT for a full managed service.
Whichever option the letting agency chooses to use, landlords need to be aware that using a ‘cheaper’ lettings agency can be a false economy. Professional agencies such as McCartan Lettings in Swansea specialise in lettings only and are therefore ideally placed to provide the most professional advice and deliver the best service.
Landlords who are interested in finding out more about the professional services offered by McCartan lettings should contact the team on : 01792 430100 or firstname.lastname@example.org