Finding a good tenant and managing the tenancy effectively are essential parts of being a professional landlord in Swansea. Those who have been in the property rental market for a while will undoubtedly recognise the benefits of using the services of a specialist letting agent to manage their tenancies.
When does it make sense to use specialist landlord letting services?
The purpose of a letting agent is to alleviate stress for the landlord and to ensure that their property remains a solid and profitable investment. If the landlord has a substantial portfolio, or even just one property but also works, time can be a constraint. Specialist letting agent services can be a valuable resource. The agents can deal with checking rental payments, renewing tenancies, visiting the property and dealing with any maintenance problems or issues that may arise directly with the tenant. This is particularly useful if the landlord is based abroad, as a local contact is imperative.
It’s worth noting that landlords need to fulfil their obligations to tenants. A lot of landlords have properties situated far away from their place of work or where they live; but they still need to act swiftly if things go wrong. Even for landlords who live locally, it can still be difficult to respond rapidly. For specialist home letting agents, this is all part of the property management service they can provide.
Letting Agents and Legislation
Landlord letting services should include helping Swansea landlords to comply with the ever-increasing amount of legislation within the sector.
The rapid rate of regulatory change, including the new landlord licensing scheme in Wales, is leading an increasing numbers of landlords to use a specialist property letting services. For example, some landlords are struggling with the fact that they have to register as a landlord and, if they want to manage the property themselves, they also need to be licensed. It’s a major cultural change in the sector, and the penalties for non-compliance will be significant. Using an agency can help reduce the exposure of landlords to non-compliance and take away the pressures that this new legislation is imposing on them.
Clever landlords will seek reassurance from specialist letting agents, particularly if they are inexperienced and require advice on the legal pitfalls and latest legislation. Although landlords will still need to register under the new landlord licensing scheme, they will not have to go through the training or meet the costs of licensing as the agency will do all of this for them.
Types of Professional Letting Services
So what kinds of letting services can specialist agents offer landlords, and how should landlords decide which one is best for them?
There are different levels of services available to landlords. Most will offer a fully-managed or a let only service. Fully managed property services are the most comprehensive available. This is where the agent takes care of everything from offering initial purchase guidance, marketing and letting the property, right through to receipting the rent, chasing arrears, managing renewals and deposit deductions. They will also take care of all maintenance issues on a day to day basis.
When it comes to a let only service, the agent will carry out all of the required activities in terms of finding a tenant and ensuring all the relevant paperwork is complete. The landlord remains responsible for the day to maintenance of the property and any issues that may arise with the tenants.
Price is always a factor when choosing a service level, but it is more important to ensure that as a landlord, you have chosen the service that suits your individual needs, especially if you are not a confident operator in the private-rented sector.
In terms of price, fees for a full property management service range from around 12% to 18% in the market. Specialists letting agents will usually offer a discount for landlords with a larger portfolio. It’s important for landlords to ask agents about evidence of comparable properties they have let, at what price and what terms, to what type of tenants and for what length. Some agents may charge lower fees, but provide low quality tenants and lower rents. An agency that charges more may be able to deliver a higher rent for a landlord.
What should landlords expect from a specialist letting agent?
There are two main choices in the market when looking for a letting agent. Landlords can opt either for a local, small, independent player, or for a larger multi-branch agency. Small, local letting agencies will know their market very well and will be focussed on getting the best tenants for their landlords. Larger agencies may offer more security but often act as estate agents too and so the focus is not on the letting side of the business.
Whatever the choice, membership of an organisation such as National Approved Letting Scheme, SafeAgent or ARLA should be a baseline. You should also use an agent with a full understanding of all the deposit schemes and regulations, not an agent who will just introduce you to tenants and then wash their hands of you. Landlords should also avoid estate agencies who have just added on a lettings business to an existing sales agency without real investment in training.
First and foremost, landlords should expect a specialist letting agency that offers excellent customer service and provides exceptional communication to ensure a seamless experience. A good agent should be doing everything in their terms of business; including regular management visits and reporting the findings to the landlord; communicating with the landlord regarding general lettings matters and legislation updates; advising the landlord on any legal requirements for which they as a landlord are responsible, such as HMO licences, registering as a non-resident landlord or complying with tenancy deposit protection.
Agents should be flexible and tailor services to their clients’ needs, ensuring that all landlords are getting the best possible service and resources. The agent is the eyes and ears of the landlord and should be looking after their investment as they would if doing it themselves
An important point for landlords to check is whether the agent holds client money protection, which protects the landlord in the event of any misappropriation. The agent should also belong to the Property Ombudsman so that the landlord has recourse in the event of a dispute, and hold professional indemnity insurance in case of a serious complaint.
Hannah McCartan, Managing Director of Swansea-based McCartan lettings, explains why so many landlords are opting to work with a local, specialist letting agency:
For more details on McCartan Lettings specialist letting services for landlords, call us on 01792 430100.