Should you use a letting agent?

Letting agents offer a range of services to help you find and look after your tenants. But there are certain costs when you use an agent rather than going it alone. So how do you know if a letting agent is right for you?

 

What can a letting agent offer me?

Letting agents can:

  • Make your property more visible to potential new tenants
  • Advise you on the best rental rate for your property
  • Manage day-to-day problems
  • Prepare your property for tenants’ arrival
  • Ensure legal obligations are met
  • Carry out relevant safety inspections
  • Manage deposits
  • Keep an inventory of your contents
  • Advise you on taxes
  • Recommend and set up the best  landlord insurance  for your needs

 

What are the alternatives?

You can go it alone. Many landlords manage their own properties. If you live close to your property then you may want to consider managing your own tenants. If you decide to go for this option, make sure you have a clear understanding of your legal obligations.

Remember though, that letting agents are experts in their field. Going it alone can mean a lot of paperwork and a lot of time working out what you need to do to stay legal and safe.

 

What is an online agent?

A third alternative is to opt for an online letting agent. These services have become increasingly popular in recent years. The fees for online agents tend to be considerably lower, but you are also likely to receive a much more streamlined service. Online agents are usually best for promoting and marketing your property. Many online agents can get you access to the most popular flat-hunting websites, such as Zoopla and RightMove. However, they tend to leave the day-to-day management of the property, as well as viewings and dispute resolution, up to you.

 

Which option is right for me?

For inexperienced landlords or landlords operating remotely, a letting agent can be a huge help. The main disadvantage of using a letting agent is the cost. You will most likely be charged 5-15% of your rental income and there may be some additional costs as well.

 

How do I find a good letting agent?

Anyone can set themselves up as a letting agent as there are no set industry standards. As a result, quality varies greatly. There are however registered bodies which letting agents can apply to join. These include the Association of Residential Lettings Agents (ARLA) and the UK Association of Lettings Agents (UKLA). Both of these are highly respected so look out for agents who are members.

There are more than 70 pieces of legislation that apply to renting out your property. A good agent will be able to guide you through all of them.

Always ensure that you are given a clear outline of the costs up front. Find out if your agents fees include all safety inspections, marketing costs and call-out charges if something goes wrong. If these are not included in the fee, you will need to understand how much these extras might cost you.

 

What next?

Decided to go for a letting agent? Here’s a quick checklist of things to do:

  • Find a list of local agents who are members of a reputable registered body
  • Get a quote from at least four different letting agents
  • Look into online agents and compare the price and services offered
  • Ask for a full list of potential additional charges
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