If you own a property that you want to let out to paying tenants, then one of the first questions that may come to mind is: should I use a letting agent and fully managed letting services?
As with most financial and practical matters, there are pros and cons involved in using a letting agent. This post will explore these in detail, so you can decide whether or not using an experienced letting agent will be the right choice for you and your property.
In this article, we’ll be mainly focusing on fully managed letting services as opposed to let only services. Let only services take care of marketing, viewings, negotiations and moving in arrangements. Fully managed services include the offerings of a let only service, as well as deposit compliance and registration, rent payments, maintenance, and amongst other things, inspections.
Why use a letting agent? Pros and cons
Here are the pros and cons to bear in mind when deciding how to rent out your property and whether or not to enlist the help of a letting agent.
The pros of using a letting agent
A letting agent finds tenants faster
In all likelihood, you’re going to get paying tenants into your property faster when you use a local letting agent than if you did the work yourself. Why is this?
A local letting agency will already have lists of people who are looking to rent property in the area. As soon as you sign up with a letting agency to help you let your property, they can get in touch with these prospective tenants. In some cases, this means that the most suitable houses and flats have been let before they even reach the advertising stage!
If you want your property to reach ‘let agreed’ status sooner, then talk to your local letting agent.
Letting agents deal with all the paperwork
When you’re a property owner with other responsibilities, paperwork can be a real headache. So why not allow someone else – who is also qualified and experienced – take that weight off your shoulders?
From using an appropriate rental agreement to dealing with references, background checks and the deposit, using a letting agent means you can forget about all that paperwork.
A good letting agent will also know exactly what they’re doing, as they do it every day. This means that you won’t have to worry about whether you’re doing things the right way or not. Take a look at the case study we’ve included later on in this blog post, illustrating the financial and legal implications of not staying on top of legislation changes.
You can remain anonymous
If you want to, there’s no need for your tenant to know who their landlord is. Even if you happen to live right next door, or downstairs.
When the tenant needs to make an inquiry or report a problem, they can contact the agency rather than you, the landlord. This means they wouldn’t know you if you crossed paths on the street, and some people prefer this level of privacy.
A letting agent has experience and expertise
Your agent will also have the benefit of experience, meaning that they can advise both you and the tenants accordingly if an issue does arise.
As fully managed letting agents are paid a proportion of the monthly rent, they’re working for you, the landlord. This means you can always expect a good letting agent to act in your best interests, while keeping the tenants happy and therefore your income flowing in.
Letting agents can help with repairs
No matter how new the property is, apartments and houses will need repair work from time to time. It’s a fact of life – but not one that a landlord necessarily wants to deal with. Especially when they have their own four walls to think about.
Whether the boiler breaks down, a tree falls in the garden or you need to replace a bedroom carpet, your agent will know exactly who can do the job in a timely, cost-effective and professional manner.
Their list of contacts will include electricians, painters and decorators and much more as well as gas engineers, tree surgeons and carpet fitters. This will save you so much time on trawling through listings, looking for a reputable tradesperson that won’t rip you off.
Most letting agents will offer a fully managed service. This means they can take care of all the maintenance on your behalf once you’ve signed up with them.
You can save so much time
We all lead increasingly busy lives – and good letting agents fully appreciate this fact. Why deal with all the paperwork, phone calls and other hassles when you don’t have to?
Filling in forms. Answering questions. Showing tenants around. Dealing with complaints. Handing over keys. Servicing the boiler. The list goes on.
If you want a letting agent to deal with these matters instead of you, then taking advantage of the service they offer could be the best move you’ll ever make.
A quick case study
Time and time again we see landlords opting for let only services rather than fully managed letting services – and ending up in a lot of bother! Here, we’ve illustrated a case similar to the ones we see all the time, to show the benefits of using a fully managed letting service,
A landlord let their property 10 years ago. In the time since, they haven’t raised the cost of rent. Thinking that was the end of their duties, they opted for a let only service. The landlord was completely unaware of the following requirements, and the consequences:
- Annual gas safety certificate – fine of up to £6,000 and a risk of up to six months in prison.
- EICR (Electrical Installation Condition Reports) – fine of up to £30,000.
- Changes to limit the amount of security deposit held – fine of up to three times the amount of the deposit.
This landlord has been blissfully ignorant to a liability of over £40,000 and a prison sentence of up to six months. To rub salt into the wound, as the landlord has not changed their rent price in 10 years, they are also missing out on just under £10,000 each year. All this could have been avoided by using a fully managed letting service.
The cons of using a letting agent
A letting agent costs money
The key drawback of using a letting agent is monetary. Their services don’t come for free, so you will have to pay out a little of your rental income on a monthly basis.
Don’t forget, though, that a letting agent knows the local rental and property market inside out – and already has a list of waiting clients. This means they can secure the highest possible rent for your property.
Clearly, a proportion of a higher rental yield is a far less bitter pill to swallow than a cut of a smaller amount!
Not all letting agents are equal
So you pick the first rental agent that comes to mind – job done, right? Well, not exactly. Not all rental agents are equally reputable. Sloppy paperwork, inadequate reference checks and a laissez faire attitude to maintenance can, sadly, be fairly commonplace.
Choose your letting agent very carefully – read on for some guidance on what to look for in a good letting agent.
Which letting agent should I choose?
You can use the pros of using a letting agent to guide you when picking between local agents. The questions to ask, therefore, may cover the rental income you can expect and whether or not they already have clients who are likely to be interested in your property.
Other issues to raise include the sort of experience they offer, as well as their contact list in terms of tradespeople. What are the costs involved if you sign up for a fully managed service? Will they guarantee your privacy, if you wish to remain anonymous?
The bottom line is that you want to make money and save time. An established, reputable agent who knows the local market inside out can help ensure you do both.
To find out more about what your letting agent can do for you, why not get in touch with your local Stanfords branch in Catford, Forest Hill or Hither Green today?