We have all heard about on-line estate agents popping up, and offering ‘too good to be true’ fees to people selling their homes.
These are now being joined by a smattering of on-line letting agents offering the same ‘too good to be true’ fees.
With private landlords coming under some considerable financial pressure, who can blame them for thinking this cheap option might be something they should consider. Some may also be forgiven for thinking about managing their own rental property. However, they do so at their peril!
If you are a landlord who engages a professional and reputable Lettings Agency to let and manage your property you may be thinking ‘I never hear from them! I must be paying them for nothing!’ the chances are you couldn’t be more wrong! A good letting agent is like a swan – gliding gracefully along the surface whilst paddling madly below the surface.
So what are the types of thing that your letting agent is doing for you, that you know nothing about – and that an on-line agent is unlikely to be able to do for you, and you are likely unwilling, or unable, to do yourself.
- Getting to know your tenants, giving advice and support on a range of personal matters, from losing a job to splitting with a partner (all related to looking after the tenancy on your behalf).
- Liaising with tenants for access and carrying out regular property inspections. These inspections can often include giving tenants advice on the general condition of the property, cleaning, dealing with condensation, etc. It also gives the agent the opportunity to see exactly how the property is being used: how many people are living in the property, whether there are pets at the property, etc. Nothing beats seeing the property with your own eyes.
- Dealing with out of hours maintenance calls, often a highly emotive conversation!
- Negotiating with tenants at the end of the tenancy to ensure that the property is left in good condition. This is often an extremely contentious issue that must be handled very carefully.
- Ensuring that your tenants have a ‘Right to Rent’. The tenants’ documents must be checked in the presence of the holder of the documents and the immigration status of the tenant must be confirmed, showing that they have a right to reside in the UK. The penalty for a landlord for failure to comply is between £1000 and £3000 per tenant. Custodial sentences may also apply.
- Ensuring that the property is compliant with all current legislation (including HHSRS – Housing Health & Safety Rating System, gas safety regulations, electrical regulations, to smoke and carbon monoxide regulations, and more…) and that all paperwork adheres to the raft of legislation now in place to protect both landlord and tenant.
- Test carbon monoxide/smoke detector on the day that the tenancy begins as detailed in The Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015. Be aware failure to do so can lead to a civil penalty of up to £5,000.
This list is just the tip of the iceberg. A good Letting Agent works tirelessly to ensure the properties that they look after are well maintained and cared for; that the people they look after are treated with care and respect; and that the tenancies they look after are legally compliant.
The best advice I would offer any landlord or potential landlord would be to engage a reputable local Letting Agent (preferably one who is a member of a regulatory body such as ARLA, NAEA, RICS). A good Letting Agent is incentivised to do the best job for his/her landlord, has great local contacts, will make sure that a property is let quickly at the optimum monthly rent, that the tenant experience is a positive one and that the landlord’s income is optimised.
If you are interested in finding out a little more about the advantages of using a regulated Letting Agent please visit: www.arla.co.uk
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