Professional Help - Do You Really Need a Letting Agent?
When it comes to human endeavour, most of us could do almost anything if we put our minds to it. We could service our own cars, repair our own washing machines, and clean our places of work. But are we the best person to do those things, and are they the best use of our time and energy? We all accept that a car mechanic would very likely do a faster and better job of changing our brake pads or fixing our suspension, but does the same reasoning apply to using a letting agent to care for your rental investment?
As a landlord with one or more properties, you’ll clearly be capable of showing tenants around, carrying out referencing and dealing with day-to-day issues that arise from owning a home where other people live. Your abilities are beyond refute, but could a letting agent add more value to that process? Let’s take a look at five factors that could benefit you and your life when it comes to finding, keeping and managing tenants for your rental property.
READY & WAITING AUDIENCE
Whether they are renting or buying, the vast majority of people in the UK begin their property search using portals like Rightmove, OnTheMarket and Zoopla to see what’s available. Many people never get any further given how easy it is to find a home on the platforms.
Sometimes people contact us about particular houses or apartments they want to see, but we also get regular requests to register for future properties from those who want to be first in line (often the best tenants). Some people even send in requests before they are ready to move to build some sort of rapport with local agents to ensure they are first in mind when a suitable home comes up.
The main property portals only list properties from letting agents, and they only send enquiries to letting agents, which means there is no better way of getting your property in front of the largest number of potentially perfect tenants from day one. But portals are not the only source of enquiries and we’re also often the first port of call when one of our existing tenants is thinking about moving: maybe they want to stop sharing and find a place to themselves, or they’d like to move in with a partner, or they need an extra room to work from home. At this early stage they are invisible in the active market, but are often excellent prospects.
LAW AND ORDER
There are around 145 laws and 400 separate pieces of legislation governing private rental property privately in the UK. That is a lot for anyone to keep up with, even if they are a full-time professional landlord. For somebody with a separate job or business to run, it would be almost impossible to consistently stay on top of every single piece of governance as it changes with each new ruling.
Letting agents are charged with knowing all the ins and outs of the legalities of private rental property, which means they can help you to avoid common mistakes around referencing, inventories, security deposits, tenancy agreements, notice periods, disputes and much, much more. We live and breathe rental properties day in, day out. The situations and challenges we encounter along the way help us to alert new and existing landlords of potential pitfalls before they turn into actual problems. The portfolio of properties we care for is larger than that of most individual landlords, which means we have a deeper level of real-life experiences to draw upon alongside our knowledge of the law.
TRUSTED LOCAL CONTACTS
Letting agents are part of the neighbourhood and part of the lives of people living and working here. Our entire day is spent talking to – and meeting with – our existing and potential neighbours, particularly local business people.
When it comes to soul-destroying tasks, phoning round for a plumber, electrician or other tradesperson, especially when you have no idea of the quality of their work, is top of the list. Will they turn up on time, or at all? Will they fix the issue, or make it worse? Will you be able to get them back if things go wrong again?
Our list of reliable local contractors and suppliers has been built over 20 years of trial, error and lucky finds. The people who help us maintain and repair the homes we care for are people we trust from our experiences of dealing with them, with some of our relationships going back many, many years and giving us priority treatment when we call.
FORGET YOUR TROUBLES
It is true that some tenancies run their entire course without a single hitch or hassle, with the only work coming from arranging the annual safety checks and routine maintenance inspections. But that isn’t normal life, even for owner occupiers.
We all have to deal with maintenance and repairs at home, most of which are only a mild hassle because we receive a direct benefit from the repair of whatever it is that needs fixing. When our oven breaks down, or the roof leaks, we get onto it with enthusiasm and gusto because we are experiencing and seeing the issue in our own environment. But it’s not the same when it comes to sorting out somebody else’s problems, even if they live in a property you own. Do you want the call at 7am or 10pm when someone’s hot water or heating unexpectedly stops, or at Sunday lunchtime when you’re sitting down to eat with family or friends and your tenants’ oven stubbornly refuses to roast their chicken?
Problems have a habit of turning up at inconvenient moments; they don’t care about your schedule or lifestyle. By having an agent with a 24-hour helpline for emergencies and an army of contractors who can spring into action, problems can be swiftly sorted before they turn into a major situation. We handle the hassle, while you get on with your day, or evening, or sleep.
There are times when problems are not connected with the plumbing, electrics or anything at all to do with your property. Sometimes a change in your tenants’ personal circumstances can add an extra challenge of the human relationships kind, which is often more complicated than maintenance issues.
When tenants start to fall behind with their rent, it can be a very difficult time for everyone involved. As a supportive landlord you’ll want to be sympathetic and understanding, but it can be hard to balance that with ensuring your tenants prioritise their rent, so you can meet your mortgage payments.
If somebody loses their job or runs into other financial difficulties, they can often go to ground from being frightened of the consequences. It’s perfectly normal for people to avoid uncomfortable conversations, whether they are a landlord or a tenant: worry and uncertainty over the prospect of arguments, unpleasantness, resentment or anger can severely interfere with the lines of communication.
A helping hand from a letting agent with experience of similar situations can provide not only welcome relief, but also solutions. Because we are in the middle, it’s often easier for tenants to be clearer with us about their position, without the concern of the conversation getting overly personal or heated with their landlord.
So there it is. Having a letting agent on your side in finding the perfect tenant and then taking good care of them and your property can be an extremely valuable partnership. It’s a feeling that’s strong among our landlord clients and which is why they continue to trust us with caring for their rental investments.
If you’re unsure about using a letting agent to either find you tenants or manage your property, why not get in touch to see if you’d like to work with us? You can call us on 01722 580059 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org - we’d love to answer your questions and to help you make the most of being a landlord.