Finding the right Letting Agent for Landlords

A letting agent specializes in managing properties on behalf of property owners.  The use of a letting agent can offer many benefits for landlords, for example they’ll find tenants, collect rent, and deal with any queries or repairs quickly and efficiently.

As a Landlord it’s important to find the right Letting Agent for your property.  You need to make sure that they are fully authorised and part of a redress scheme. The three approved schemes are: The Property Ombudsman Limited, the Property Redress Scheme and Ombudsman Services. 

Additionally, an agent is able to provide a full range of management services including finding and screening tenants as well as offering guidance in case of any repairs or queries that may arise. This can help to save landlords time, money, and stress in managing their properties.

What are the key criteria for choosing a good letting agent?

Property renting can be a long term proposition; make sure you find the right agent to help with your business.

1. Redress Schemes

When evaluating a letting agent, it is important to determine whether the agent is compliant with any applicable legal regulations.

Since 1st October 2014, all letting agents and managing agents have been legally required to be a member of one of three government-approved letting agency redress schemes, which enables consumers to pursue an independent complaint and prosecution procedure!

To ensure that landlords are fully protected in their relationships with letting agents, it is important to find an agent who is part of an independent complaints body such as the Property Ombudsman or Property Redress Scheme who will investigate any issues you may have with your agent should they arise.

All letting agents must be a member of at least one of the following schemes:

SchemeDescriptionLink

Property Redress Scheme

  • Helps agents comply with legal requirements
  • Help resolve complaints
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The Property Ombudsman

  • Independent dispute resolution service
  • Approved by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT)
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There are other redress schemes that a letting or management agent may be a part of:

Note they are not government-approved and agents aren’t legally required to be a member of them.

2. Client Money Protection schemes (required in England & Wales)

If a Letting Agent or Property Management Agent holds a client’s money, they are legally required to join a ‘client money protection scheme‘. Failure to be part of an approved CMP scheme can result in a fine of up to £30,000.

For example, if you’re a landlord, and you use a letting agent to collect rent from your tenant, your agent must be a member of one of the schemes. These schemes make sure that landlords and tenants are compensated if the agent cannot repay the money, for example if they go into administration.

All letting and management agents must join any of the following government-approved schemes:

3. Professionalism

When looking for a professional letting company, key indicators of professionalism include trustworthiness, accurate information, and great customer service.

Trustworthiness involves being reliable and honest with clients when providing services.

Accurate information is critical in helping landlords and tenants navigate their rental agreements.

Finally, good customer service can help ensure that landlords and tenants have a positive experience when working with the letting company.

Professionalism is essential to building relationships with clients and gaining their trust.

4. Service Level

A letting agent can either provide a let only service or a management service. You need to choose which service is right for you.

If you are local to the property you may choose a let only service.  If you live far away then having a letting agent close to the property who can manage it is probably sensible. 

I negotiated with a letting agent who was located to close to one of my properties that was a long way from me.  I didn’t want to pay a monthly management fee, but I wanted someone that I could call if I needed a local contact. 

I asked if they would allow me to pay them on a job by job basis. They agreed to this, so I only paid them when I needed something doing.  This made financial sense and has worked out really well. This maybe something you want to consider doing. 

Depending on what type of service you go for, the letting agent will:

  • Find tenants for your property and arrange the let making sure all the legal requirements are met. 
  • If you choose a management service, they will collect the rent from your tenants each month and chase any late payments.
  • Manage all aspects of the rental, not just the rent collection but also dealing with any queries and sorting out maintenance and repair work.
  • Service level is key when choosing a letting agent, as it will impact the overall experience.
  • It is important to compare all the different letting companies and services available in order to find the best one for you.

5. Fees and Commission

When choosing a letting agent, it is important to consider several key factors:

Firstly, research fees for services such as checking in and drawing up a tenancy agreement as these can vary widely and be non-refundable.

Secondly, understand the management fees that may be charged for day-to-day maintenance of the property; these typically range between 7% and 12.5%.

Thirdly, look into whether there are any additional fees such as those for tenancy extension/renewal or exit inspections. 

It is important to research different agents to find one with competitive fees based on a percentage of monthly rent, as well as an experienced team with a good reputation. 

Inventory Fee

It is important for landlords to consider the inventory fee when choosing a letting agent because it can significantly affect their costs.

By understanding the fees associated with an inventory check, landlords can make sure they are getting the best value for their money and avoiding any potential surprises.

Additionally, charging tenants based on a percentage of rent instead of a flat fee can be beneficial to the landlord in terms of profitability.

Exit Fee

It is important to consider an exit fee when choosing a letting agent in order to ensure that the agent is providing the best possible service to both landlord and tenant, as well as meeting any legal requirements in the area.

The chancellor announced plans for a ban of letting agent fees in England and Wales, making it essential for landlords and tenants alike to be aware of their rights when it comes to exit fees.

Having an understanding of these fees ahead of time can help protect both parties from any unexpected costs or delays due to improper use of services or lack thereof.

Renewal Fees

When choosing a letting agent, it is important to consider renewal fees as they can vary significantly depending on the services needed and the location of the property.

Some agents may charge a percentage of monthly rent while others may charge a flat fee for the entire contract term.

It is vital to compare different offerings and ensure that you are not overpaying or being charged higher than average fees for similar services in your area.

6. Financial Services

It is important to choose a letting agent with financial services in order to ensure that all aspects of the rental process are managed efficiently.

With financial services, a letting agent can handle everything from rent collection and tenant queries to maintenance and repair work.

This allows landlords to focus on other aspects of their business, safe in the knowledge that their rental finances are being taken care of.

7. Property Industry Knowledge

It is important for a letting agent to have knowledge about properties in order to best serve their clients.

Having experience in the property business means that a letting agent can provide landlords with valuable advice and guidance.

They understand rental needs, are able to market properties effectively, and can handle legal paperwork and rent collection efficiently.

When selecting a letting agent, it is important for landlords to make sure they choose one with extensive knowledge of the industry so that they get the results they need.

8. Rental Market Expertise

The key criteria for choosing a good letting agent include experience, knowledge of the local market, and a good reputation.

It is important to find an agent with extensive experience in the field and a deep understanding of the local rental market.

Additionally, it is important to select an agency with a strong reputation that can be trusted to provide quality service.  If you can, speak to other local landlords to get recommendations for agents. 

9. Maintenance & Repairs

Before selecting a letting agent, it is important to consider their policies regarding maintenance and repair.

A good letting agency will have a comprehensive plan in place for dealing with any issues that may arise during the term of the lease.

This could include having an on-call team of professionals who can address any problems quickly, as well as providing regular checks to ensure the property is safe and secure for tenants.

Knowing what maintenance and repair services are included in your agreement with a letting agent will help landlords prepare for potential situations that may require prompt attention and action.

10. Area Expertise

It is essential for landlords to choose a letting agent who is knowledgeable about the area they are looking to rent or buy a property in.

This knowledge will ensure that the letting agent can provide an effective and comprehensive service, as they will be aware of local regulations, market trends and other factors which may impact upon their decision.

By selecting an informed letting agent, landlords can rest assured that their interests are being taken care of in the most efficient and effective way possible.

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What are the list of services offered by a letting agent?

Different services will be offers by different letting agents, but here are the most common services you should be able to take advantage of:

1. Creation of a Tenancy Agreement (AST)

When it comes to renting out a property, it is important to have an Assured Shorthold Tenancy Agreement (AST) drawn up.

This ensures that both the landlord and tenant understand their rights and responsibilities under the tenancy agreement.

Having a written contract in place also helps protect both parties should any disputes arise during the course of the tenancy.

A letting agent can be extremely helpful when arranging a tenancy agreement, as they are knowledgeable about tenancy law and can provide advice on creating an AST that meets all legal requirements.

Tenancy Agreement

Furthermore, agents often charge commission for their services which is typically paid from the annual rent received by landlords.

Therefore, choosing an experienced agent with knowledge of relevant legislation is essential in order to ensure that landlords are legally covered when entering into a renting arrangement with tenants.

Tenancy agreements are important because they provide legal protection for both the landlord and tenant. They outline the start and end dates of the tenancy, details of any fixtures and fittings in the property, information regarding data protection, how much deposit is taken, what type of tenancy deposit protection scheme is used, fair rent amount due on a certain date, and payment method.

By signing a tenancy agreement both parties are made aware of their rights and responsibilities. It is important to seek professional legal advice when creating this agreement so you are fully protected.

2. Property Inspection

It is important to inspect the property when selecting an Agent Letting Company in order to ensure that they can provide all the services they claim to offer.

This includes assessing whether their services include finding tenants, collecting rent, and managing the property.

Furthermore, it is also important to research and compare commission rates since this can have a significant impact on how much money a landlord makes off their rental properties.

By inspecting the property and researching commission rates, landlords are better equipped to make an informed decision about which Agent Letting Company best suits their needs.

3. Credit Searches

When selecting an agent letting company, credit searches are important as they can help landlords to assess the trustworthiness and financial stability of potential tenants.

Credit searches provide landlords with critical information about a tenant’s payment history and their ability to pay rent on time.

This information can help landlords decide whether to enter into a contract with the tenant, as they will have an idea of the tenant’s track record in fulfilling their obligations when it comes to paying rent.

4. Advertising

How successful an agent is at filling vacancies often comes down to their advertising. A well-advertised property will draw more attention from potential tenants, resulting in a higher chance of securing them.

Advertising allows landlords to compare different companies and their services, so they can choose the right one for their needs.

Ultimately, advertising helps ensure that the right tenant is found quickly and efficiently without any unnecessary delays or costs.

5. Maintenance

The importance of considering a company’s maintenance policies when selecting a Letting Agent cannot be overlooked.

Maintenance policies will influence how much the company charges for their services, and therefore should be taken into account before deciding to go with a particular letting agent.

Knowing what kind of maintenance can be expected from an agent is critical for landlords who want to ensure that any repairs or issues are addressed promptly and professionally.

Additionally, understanding any restrictions or limits on maintenance services can help landlords make informed decisions regarding the best setup for their rental property.

6. Rent Collection

We’re all in the property investment business to make money, and collecting it regularly and chasing missed payments is one of the key services on offer.  This goes hand in hand with tenant management, providing a way to manage any legal requirements related to tenancy agreements.

When a letting agent collects rent they are responsible for protecting the deposit and ensuring all services offered are managed properly.

7. Insurance

It is important to consider insurance when selecting an agent because of the potential risks that can arise in the landlord-tenant relationship. Insurance provides protection against financial liabilities, such as legal costs incurred due to disputes over rent or damage to property.

Insurance can also provide coverage for any loss of rental income due to a tenant’s breach of contract or if a tenant fails to pay rent.

You may find insurance that covers any necessary repairs and maintenance that need to be done on the property.

8. Tenant Find Service

The tenant find service is an important part of finding the right letting agent for landlords. It is a one-time fee charged at the start of a rental and helps the agent find a suitable tenant. The service level includes basic tasks such as designing floor plans and advertising the property. Once a tenant is found, the rest of the tenancy agreement (e.g., signing paperwork, setting up utilities) can be handled by the letting agent. In addition to looking for tenants, there are three types of letting services: Fully Managed, Managed and Unmanaged that help landlords manage their properties more effectively– including rent collection and tenant management.

9. Deposit Disputes

In instances where the tenant has broken the terms of the lease, it is up to the letting agent to work with both parties and raise any claims necessary in order for some or all of the deposit returned.

The letting agent should also take steps such as confirming keys, fobs and permits have been returned, arranging a check-out inspection and confirming bills are paid before returning any money.

In cases where there is a dispute involving a landlord or tenant that cannot be resolved between them, they can raise it with an independent complaints body, which is why it is a legal requirement for their letting company to belong to one of these.

FAQs

What is a letting agent?

A letting agent is a professional who assists landlords and tenants in negotiating rental agreements. The commission charged by a letting agent typically consists of a percentage of the annual rent. Letting agents provide a range of services, such as finding tenants, collecting rent payments, and managing properties for landlords. They can help with private individual rentals and landlord rentals alike. To find the right letting agent for your needs, research their qualifications and reviews from past clients to ensure they are experienced in the type of rental agreement you need. Ask around to see if anyone has positive or negative experiences with particular agents so you can make an informed decision before signing any contracts or agreements.

What do letting agents do?

The purpose of letting agents is to act as a mediator between landlords and tenants in order to facilitate the process of renting out a property.

They provide full management services, such as finding tenants, collecting rent and managing the property.

How do I know if a letting agent is right for me?

Finding the right letting agent for landlords can be a daunting task, it is important to find one that is reliable and trustworthy when it comes to renting or buying property.

Fortunately, there are resources available to help landlords make an informed decision, for example Zoopla provides a directory of local agents who are experts in their area. 

Landlords should exercise caution when looking at online reviews, as they may not accurately reflect the experiences of landlords working with the agent.

Additionally, it can be helpful to look for an established agency with good customer service and experience in handling enquiries promptly.

Ultimately, it’s important that landlords choose an agent they trust and feel comfortable working with over time. 

Finally, calling or going into a branch posing as a tenant can be helpful in finding the right letting agent – one that offers good customer service which will keep your tenants happy long term.

What are the different types of letting agents?

The two main types of letting agents are Estate Agents and Letting Agents. Estate Agents provide services for landlords with properties to let, such as finding tenants, arranging the let, collecting rent, and managing the tenancy.

Meanwhile, Letting Agents typically only work with private individuals and offer a range of services from finding tenants to sorting out repairs.

Depending on the service package chosen by the landlord, they may be offered Full Management or Tenant Find Only options; Full Management includes all tasks related to tenant management while Tenant Find Only limits the agent’s involvement to just locating prospective tenants.

What are the benefits of using a letting agent?

The benefits of using a letting agent are numerous. They can provide experienced advice on the local rental market, helping landlords to find a compatible property and the best deal. They are also affiliated with major organisations such as ARLA, UKALA and NALS which require them to adhere to certain standards of professionalism.

Additionally, agents have an understanding of tenants’ needs and can help landlords negotiate favourable terms for their properties. Finally, they assist with customer enquiries and handle tenant relations in order to ensure satisfaction from both parties and increase the landlord’s rent income potential.

What are the risks of using a letting agent?

It is important to make sure that the chosen agent adheres to minimum standards and has Client Money Protection in place, as well as being knowledgeable about the specific area and market.

Additionally, it is advisable for landlords to investigate an agent’s background and reputation before hiring them, as agents with a short history may be less capable of providing good service or charge more than necessary.

Lastly, landlords must make sure that their chosen letting agent is registered with local authorities if they are operating in Scotland due to its stringent rental regulations.

How much does it cost to use a letting agent?

The cost of using a letting agent can vary greatly depending on the location and services on offer. These services can include credit checks, drawing up tenancy agreements, and conducting check-ins.

Some agents may choose to collect rent in exchange for an additional commission fee. Generally speaking, the cost of using a letting agent ranges between 7% and 12.5% of the monthly rent.

What is the difference between a letting agent and a property management company?

  • A letting agent collects rent from your tenants, whereas a property management company manages the entire rental.
  • A letting agent is like the personal assistant of landlords, doing everything from finding tenants to chasing late payments.
  • A property management company will give you full management of the property, including dealing with any queries or maintenance work.
  • A letting agent is a facilitator between a landlord and tenant, who will normally charge a commission for their services.
  • Property management companies are responsible for the overall management and upkeep of residential properties, which may include finding new tenants, dealing with repairs and maintenance, and organising rent payments.
  • A letting agent will often work under the umbrella of an Estate Agent due to the synergies that exists between the two professions.
  • A letting agent will handle tenancies between private individuals and landlords, while a property management company will deal with tenancies between private individuals and tenants.

What is the difference between a letting agent and an estate agent?

  • A letting agent is a facilitator through which an agreement is made between a landlord and tenant for the rental of a residential property.
  • Estate agents are not normally involved in the letting of residential properties, and are instead involved in the sale or purchase of such properties.
  • A letting agent focuses on tenancies between private individuals and landlords, while an estate agent deals with entire property sales and management.
  • A letting agent typically offers two or three levels of service, such as finding tenants and arranging the let, collecting rent, and managing queries from tenants.
  • A letting agent does not usually deal with sale negotiations or property management – this is the main responsibility of an estate agent.

Conclusion

When making decisions about hiring a letting agency, landlords should consider these factors to ensure that they have selected an agency that can meet their needs effectively and efficiently.

It is important to research different agents to find one with competitive fees based on a percentage of monthly rent, as well as an experienced team with a good reputation. Landlords should also make sure that their chosen agent offers all the services they require for their property and are full regulated. 

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