8 Steps for choosing a letting agent

The first time I had to rent my property it took me some time to decide which agent to go with and I didn’t have any idea where to start. Let me tell you that it was not easy but luckily it turns out I made the right choice; however, we do not always get lucky.

I have conducted the below process guide to make this choice as easy as possible.

“Dear Landlord”

Being a landlord in 2021 is not an easy task and choosing the right lettings agent can be a daunting and sometime an overwhelming process that could cost you money and unnecessary stress. That’s why it’s more important that ever to make the right decision.

While a bad letting agent could cause you a lot of nightmares, a competent and caring letting agent should make your life “Dear Landlord” much easier.

A good letting agent should TRULY have your best interest at Heart, market your property proactively, find you the right tenant in a shorter period of time, minimize the void periods, handle the paperwork quickly and keep you informed all the time all for a reasonable letting fee. If you choose a management service, your agent should also deal with any day-to-day rental issues.

Here are 8 things in our (Holimpia) opinion, you should consider when choosing a letting agent for the first time or even when switching.

What services do you want from a letting agent?

Even though we think all letting agents are the same, trust me when I say, no they are not.

Some letting agents are LET-ONLY, which usually means they will market the property, find a tenant, under-go referencing checks, and draft the tenancy agreement. Sometimes they’ll register the deposit and collect the first month’s rent, before leaving you to your own devices.

Others take on full management which includes all the above service and involves chasing and collecting rental payments for the duration of the tenancy, sorting out repairs, inspecting the property periodically and generally making sure everything goes without a hitch.
They should take care of your home as it was their own.

So, my advice is to take your time and think carefully before deciding. It can be tempting to think it’ll be easy enough to do it all yourself, and in some cases, it may be. But if you’re busy, and certainly if you live far away, hiring a reliable letting agent who can truly look after your property could save you time and money in the long run.

Make a short list of chosen Agents

Once you have made your mind up, it’s time to draw up a shortlist of possible letting agents. Take a look at online listings, website, check blogs, and ask other local landlords and friends for recommendations and advice.

You can also check whether agents are well-reviewed on creditable review site; all Agents Trustpilot and Google reviews. Remember most reviews may not be genuine so its critical you check multiple review platforms.

Speak to the letting agents on your shortlist, see if you get a good impression. You should speak with at least two good letting agents. Ask them how long properties are currently taking to rent, what marketing strategy do they have in place and whether they have any tenants on their books who are looking for a property like yours. Also make sure they are listening and fully understanding your needs. Last but not least, trust your instinct.

How much do they charge?

Letting agents are unregulated, meaning what they charge for their services can vary. In London, expect to pay at least between 14-17% of the monthly rent for full property management. You are more likely to be successful in bringing that rate down if you are letting long-term and therefore guaranteeing rent for longer. Of course, fees will be lower for let-only services – the range varies between 8-12% + VAT.

You can always try to negotiate a better price but don’t forget that the less you pay the more likely the letting agent will not giving 100% of hard work when trying to rent your property.
Most letting agents’ staff will try to work harder towards a property that is listed at a higher fee. Don’t forget that the staff is paid between 5% to 10 % commission on the letting fee that you pay to the business. Sometime paying a bit more will give you extra rewards.

Agents must be part of a professional body

You should make sure that any letting agents you’re considering are registered with the Property Ombudsman Service or the Property Redress Scheme as this is a legal requirement.

Also find out if the letting agent is part of an accreditation scheme like the National Approved Letting Scheme (NALS), or a member of a professional body such as ARLA Propertymark. Accreditation or membership will mean that the letting agency meets certain standards and should comply with particular codes of conduct.

Marketing Strategy

What is the marketing strategy they are using, most of the agents advertise their properties on platforms such as Right Move, Zoopla, On the market, Prime Location, However there are many more platforms out there with a smaller market share but still very good advertising platforms.

Those are Spare room, which is now advertising flats as well, Gumtree, Facebook, and Instagram.
Don’t forget that social is a powerful advertising platform and if you manage to build a large following there are more chances that the property will be seen by many people.

Big or small agency, which one should I choose?

A smaller agency will know the area, and the local renting market – and may perhaps even have similar types of properties to yours on their books. It will also be likely that you’ll work with a smaller team, with people you can really get to know, and can get to the property quickly if they ever need to. A national agency / or a lettings agency that’s owned by an estate agency, might have more marketing resource to help rent out your property to a wider audience, and they can also be a better option for landlords looking to rent out multiple properties in different locations.

Questions you should ask to your letting agent?

It’s really important when choosing your letting agent that you cover any concerns or queries at the time you have, no matter how small or silly you may feel they are.

Some good questions to ask letting agents you’re considering working with are:

  • Who will be my point of contact? How long have they been with the company?
  • Can I see a copy of your terms of business?
  • Other than your Let Only fee / management fees, what other fees should I be aware of?
  • Do you charge me for renewing the tenancy?
  • What is your marketing strategy?
  • Do you mark-up maintenance quotes or charge a fee for arranging maintenance?
  • Which tenancy deposit protection scheme do you use?
  • Do you have client money protection?
  • Are you part of a redress scheme?
  • Are your members Arla accredited?
  • Is there a number tenants can call if they have an out-of-hours emergency?

These should be extremely basic questions for them to answer, so any reluctance or uncertainty isn’t a good sign.

You can decide for yourself what answers you deem acceptable and what your “dealbreakers” are, but the way they answer should tell you a lot.

How to work with your chosen letting agent?

Once you’ve made your decision you need to decide what relationship you want to have with your agent. This will also be dependent on the type of agent they are and how they approach you with problems in the future. A good agent should bring you a solution to a problem rather than the problem itself.

For example, your tenant has called the agent to say there is a leak in the boiler

A good agent will tell you that they weighed up the issue, found quotes for it to be fixed and would you like to proceed?

A bad agent will call you to tell you there is a leak in the boiler.

If you are slow to respond to the agent about their solution then you could end up creating more of a problem. However, if you prefer to find four more quotes and compare prices yourself then you need to question whether the letting agent service is right for you.

You also need to be honest and transparent with your agents as much as your agent need to be with you. Don’t lie and hide things that can give trouble in the future, remember that you are agents client and they should always have your back. Building a long-lasting relationship is the best strategy and will always pay you back.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Fill out this field
Fill out this field
Please enter a valid email address.
You need to agree with the terms to proceed