We have frequently heard about online real estate agents popping up offering ‘too good to be true’ commissions and fees to home owners selling their homes in the UK.
They are now being joined by a new generation of online letting agents offering a similar ‘too good to be true’ commission.
With landlords coming under some substantial financial pressure, nobody can blame them for thinking this inexpensive option could be something they should definitely consider. Many are even considering managing their own rental property. However, they are doing so at their peril.
If you are a landlord and you are engaging a professional letting agency to manage your property right now you might be thinking ‘I barely hear from them! I am paying them for nothing!’, then think twice, because you couldn’t be more wrong! A proper letting agent is very much like a swan – gliding charmingly along the surface whilst paddling intensely underneath the surface.
So what are those things that the letting agent is doing for you behind the scenes, that you know nothing about:
- Making an effort to get to know your tenants, providing recommendations, support and advice on a range of personal matters, all the way from losing a job to even splitting with a partner (of course, all related to looking after the tenancy on your behalf, obviously).
- Dealing with tenants for carrying out property inspections. These inspections usually include providing tenants with advice on the condition of the property, dealing with condensation, cleanings, etc. It also provides the agent the opportunity to check exactly how the space is being used: how many people are actually living in the property, whether they are having pets at the house, etc. Nothing is better than seeing the apartment or house with your own eyes.
- Managing out of hours maintenance and service calls, frequently a highly emotive conversation.
- Dealing with tenants towards the end of the tenancy to guarantee that the space is left in great condition. This is frequently a very contentious matter that needs to be managed really carefully.
- Making sure that the tenants have a ‘right to rent’. The tenants’ documents need to be checked in the presence of the actual holder of the documents and their immigration status must be confirmed, ensuring that he/she has the right to reside in the United Kingdom. The penalty for a landlord for failure to comply with this is between £1000 - £3,000 per tenant, so this is something to bear in mind. Custodial sentences may apply too.
- Guaranteeing that the home is compliant with all laws and legislation (including housing health and safety rating system, electrical regulations, to smoke and carbon monoxide regulations, gas safety regulations, and more…) and that the paperwork adheres to the raft of regulations now in place to protect both tenant and landlord.
- Test carbon monoxide as well as the smoke detector on the day that the tenancy begins as specified in the carbon monoxide and smoke alarm regulations. Keep in mind that failure to do so can generate a civil penalty of £5,000.
The above are just the tip of the iceberg. A decent letting agent works incessantly to guarantee the apartments or houses they look after are cared for and well maintained; that the tenants (and landlords) they look after are treated with respect and care.
The best advice I could possibly offer to a landlord or potential landlord is to engage a professional local letting agent (if possible, one who is a member of a regulatory institution such as NAEA, ARLA, RICS). In order to find a reputable local agent, you can ask to your contacts or search on Google for local agents + your area, for instance if you live in Thame just search for letting agents Thame. A great letting agent is motivated to do the best job for landlords, has excellent local contacts, will ensure that your home is let rapidly at the optimal rent, that the tenant experience is brilliant and that the income is optimised.