Letting Agents: Should You Use Them?

Some landlords avoid letting agents and manage their property themselves, others could not do their job without them. A number of things should be taken into account when deciding between looking after your property yourself, or whether you feel you would benefit from the assistance of a letting agent.

Letting agents are great in that they manage the trickier and lengthier aspects of tenancies which landlords typically dislike. With that said, finding one which best suits you and your needs can be tricky, CIA Landlord Insurance has put together a handy guide which may assist in laying out the basics.

Who is likely to benefit from using a letting agent?

Typically, landlords who benefit from the use of a letting agent are those who have a large number of properties to manage. Also, landlords do not always live close to the property they are renting out, so a letting agent close to the property may prove wise in order to keep tabs on their tenancies.

Letting agents work well for inexperienced landlords, where they can be utilised for some added security and support. It is highly important landlords are up to date on relevant regulations and legislation, therefore if you are not or you do not feel comfortable in this department, it is most-definitely worthwhile using a letting agent.

What services do letting agents provide?

There are varying levels of service which letting agents provide, from a ‘let-only or ‘tenant-find’ service for example, through to the more comprehensive ‘fully managed’ service.

A ‘let-only’ and ‘full management’ service are typically the two main categories which a letting agent will provide.

A ‘let-only’ and ‘full management’ service are typically the two main categories which a letting agent will provide.

With a ‘let-only’ service, the letting agent takes responsibility for things such as providing rental assessments to give you a better understanding of what you can realistically charge, conduct viewings on your behalf and acquire references from tenants. What can also be expected from this level of service is a tenancy agreement to be provided, credit checks performed and the tenants first payment be taken by them.

A full management service, on the other hand, will incorporate all of the aforementioned elements but you can expect the letting agent to take responsibility for the day-to-day management, too. If for instance, a tenant locks themselves out of the property or there is a boiler fault, the letting agent will arrange for one of its approved contractors to resolve the issue.

What is the cost of a letting agent?

The cost of a letting agent greatly differs depending on factors such as the location and size of your property. As it is a highly competitive market, there is always the prospect of negotiation to get yourself a better deal, so long as you are prepared to haggle. Request a price from a number of sources in your locality, and begin negotiations from there.

If a small independent letting agent is hired, then for a ‘let-only’ service you may be fortunate enough to pay as little as a couple of hundred pounds for the service. However, the likelihood is you will pay the equivalent to a months rent + an annual tenancy renewal fee.

It is important to note, from June 1st 2019 landlords or letting agents are no longer able to charge these fees to tenants. This means that (some) letting agents have been offsetting this loss onto the landlords (therefore paying double what would originally be paid for the renewal fees).

A full management service will typically be a 12-month deal with fees starting at around 12% and can rise to as much as 20% depending on location. If you come across prices lower than this, it may be wise to avoid them for reasons of service quality.

A full management service will typically be a 12-month deal with fees starting at around 12% and can rise to as much as 20% depending on location. If you come across prices lower than this, it may be wise to avoid them for reasons of service quality.

Should I use a letting agent?

With a wealth of information at our fingertips, it may seem lucrative to consider a ‘DIY’ approach for conducting a letting agent’s traditional duties. With plenty of research, it is possible you can do it yourself. Only go down this road if you feel confident in yourself to abide by the relevant regulations and legislation.

One thing to consider if you do decide to use a letting agent, check to see if they are registered with an industry body or trade association. These include the Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA), National Approved Lettings Scheme (NALS) and UK Association of Accredited Letting Agents (UKALA) as the main bodies whereby the letting agents have to adhere to certain standards in order to become a member.

The idea of being a landlord is great, but the reality, for the most part, is it is not an easy task. Taking control of all of your own property management may prove extremely difficult depending on the size and number of property’s you own, and the nature of your tenants. You may have the best intentions of delivering everything all of your tenants require but sometimes this may not end up as being the case. If dealing with unhappy tenants is your idea of a nightmare, letting agents will do this for you.

In accordance with your own circumstances and requirements, only you as a landlord can make the decision but by keeping yourself well informed on all aspects discussed in this guide, to begin with, you can improve your chances of making the best possible choice for you.

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