Being a landlord, doesn’t need to be all about fixing broken pipes. Choose an agent who acts fast, knows the area and has good local contacts.
A good managing agent is worth their weight in gold. They deal with problems as soon as they arise, whether it’s a fire alarm sounding in the night or arranging a plumber to deal with that exhausted washing machine. Landlords need an agent who will look after their tenants and leave the landlords to live their lives. Here are 10 tips on how to choose the best managing agent.
1 Secrets of success
Ask friends and colleagues for personal recommendations. Word of mouth approval is always best. If you are a member of the National Landlord’s Association (www.landlords.org.uk), ask other members who they use. You may also want to stay local. An agent who is only a street or two away will be able to act faster, know the area and have contacts with local tradesmen. They will be convenient if you want to pop in for a chat, too.
2 Are they reputable?
Check their credentials. Most property agents are members of ARLA (Association of Residential Letting Agents www.arla.co.uk ) or UKALA (UK Association of Letting Agents www.ukala.org.uk ). They are required to work within a strict code of practice. If they are members of the TPO (The Property Ombudsman) scheme, so much the better.
3 What services are provided?
Ask the agent how they find the tenants. Where do they advertise? Do they already have suitable prospective tenants on their books? Are they available out of hours? They should be able to advise you on every aspect of lettings, particularly the raft of ever-changing legislation with which landlords have to comply.
4 Is the price right?
Be clear about what you are getting for your money. Most agents will charge 10-20 per cent of the monthly rent to find the tenant. For this, they will market the property, conduct the viewings, check the references, draw up a tenancy agreement and possibly an inventory. You might be able to negotiate a fixed fee, too.
If you want a full management service, expect to pay 15-20 per cent of the monthly rental income, plus renewals fees. Check how much the agency will charge the tenants at the outset and after the initial term is completed.
5 New lease of life
Ask what references the agent will obtain from the prospective tenant and make it clear how much you want to be involved. It’s much better to be selective at the early stages to find the best tenants.
6 Money matters
Check where the deposit will be held and how the rent collection is organised. Does the agent have a way to protect clients’ money – both the tenant’s deposit and the landlord’s income?
7 Dealing with tradesmen
Be sure to agree a maximum expenditure on repairs before any work begins. If the bill is going to bust your budget, the agent must contact you first. Ask how the agency finds the tradesmen. Consider appliance maintenance and breakdown cover, too.
8 Feel at home
Always read any contracts carefully before signing them. If you are unhappy with any clauses, then ask for it to be removed or discuss it further. Make sure you have a copy of the new contract, signed and dated by you and the agent. You can’t be too careful!
9 Moving on
So the tenants have been there a while and they love the house. They would really like to buy the property and make you an offer. Where do you stand with the letting agent? Again, the devil is in the detail, so check the original contract you signed.
10 The last word
But most of all, trust your instincts when appointing a managing agent. Are they professional, prompt and polite? Can you see yourself working with them on a long-term basis? A harmonious relationship is the key to success.