Being a landlord in today’s world can appear daunting to a novice. Tenants today are better informed than ever before and the continually evolving law makes for increasingly stricter regulation in this sector.
Even seasoned landlords can be caught out with the more recent legislative requirements such as tax changes and Right to Rent which makes the attraction of using a professional letting agent ever more so.
A good letting agent will help a landlord maximise his investment, save them time and remove a great deal of the day-to-day management activities.
A lot of careful thought is required before letting a property or acquiring a property to let. Different considerations will apply, depending on the type of property you wish to let and the reason for letting. For example;
- Your own home. There are two main reasons why people let their own homes (1) they are going abroad for a period of time and will require it upon their return; and (2) they are unable to sell their property, for example, due to negative equity (‘accidental landlords’). If you intend to live in the property again yourself, you will want to be particularly careful with your choice of tenant.
- Your second home. You may own a second home which you wish to rent out as a holiday home to earn an income for the periods when you do not wish to use it yourself. As you will not, in the nature of things, have your main home local to the property, it is probably best to consider using one of the specialist holiday country cottage letting agencies, at least to start with.
- You may have inherited a property, perhaps on the death of your parents, and be considering letting it for an income rather than selling it. You have slightly more flexibility here because if the property is unsuitable for letting, you can sell it and buy another more viable property with the proceeds of the sale.
- Buy-to-let. You may be considering purchasing an investment property specifically for letting out. Please see the separate tab for further details on this.
Landlords, the burning question – how do you find a GOOD agent that you can trust?
Probably the best way is via word of mouth and recommendation from friends or fellow landlords – that is exactly how our business has grown, so we must be doing something right!
But there is another important consideration – ask yourself these questions.
- Would you let an unqualified gas engineer work on your boiler at home without checking he was registered with Gas Safe?
- Would you let an unqualified mechanic repair your car because he could save you money by fitting second hand parts?
No, of course, you wouldn’t. So why put your property, probably the biggest investment most of us ever make, into the hands of someone who is not qualified to look after it? Without even the basic skills required, they could lose you thousands of pounds in rent and even worse, you could end up being sued by a tenant or even losing the property. Housing Law is one of the most complex areas of UK law and requires a clear understanding by the agent of landlords and tenants obligations.
Sadly, the industry is rife with unskilled, unregulated letting agents that will attempt to entice you in with offers of low (or no!) start up fees but provide you with poor quality service and advice, but much worse is that there is no security in the event the Company fails. This has happened to two high profile names in Taunton, both of who failed, leaving landlords not only without rent but also having to replace their tenants deposits which had also been taken. As the Agents were unregulated there was no financial compensation for landlords at all.
If your Agent isn’t regulated, you should ask why not? Becoming a regulated agent isn’t easy; separate client and deposit accounts are required, proof is required that you are operating to the strict guidelines set down by the body and for ARLA only relevant examination qualifications in Housing Law are required.
We are members of ARLA – the Association of Residential Letting Agents. ARLA are the foremost representative body for letting agents and the most established and strict of the schemes available to join. What does that mean to our clients?
- Experienced and trained professionals
- Understand and comply with complex legislative changes and best practice
- Backed up by NFoPP Client Money Protection scheme (CMP)
- Accounts are independently inspected annually and accountants’ reports submitted to ARLA
- ARLA agents have professional indemnity insurance
- Attend regular training to keep skills and experience up-to-date
- Comply with the professional standards of the nationally recognised professional body for letting agents
Most importantly, we are solely an independent letting agency without the distraction of estate agency. We do not try to do two very different jobs – sales versus lettings – as we believe the skill sets required for each are fundamentally different. We encourage our landlords to let us manage their properties for TWO good reasons
- Data shows that the average length of tenancy is greater for agent managed properties than for landlord managed. Minimising tenant turnover (‘churn’) is desirable.
- Void periods (a landlords’ biggest expense) tend to be shorter, potentially because a proportion of tenants specifically request to view only agent managed properties for the likely ease of problem solving, therefore leading to a higher level of interest and demand.
Our management service stands out from our competitors with some genuine differences
- We make more frequent routine inspections which include a detailed follow up report with photographic evidence of ongoing condition.
- We have an organised accounting process that pays out Landlords swiftly and accurately.
- Management is carried out ‘in house’ at our Taunton offices, not farmed out to a faceless central office elsewhere in the UK.
- Landlords have access to our PropertyFile system giving them a secure online login to a dedicated site where they can check their statements, review present and upcoming tenancies, track the progress of maintenance jobs and stay abreast of safety certificates due dates.
Landlords have different priorities
- If your main wish is to achieve the highest market rent, then our superior marketing of your property (with floor plans) will achieve more viewings, more offers and a higher price. A cautionary note re price – the best tenant is not always the first or the highest payer, we will advise you in this regard.
- If you want a tenant who will care for your property, you will appreciate our thorough referencing procedure, our independently prepared inventories with photographs and our monthly management report, keeping you up to date on all the activity on your properties including how much you will be paid and when, feedback on viewings, and any maintenance to be carried out on the property.
- If your priority is legal compliance, then our ARLA membership with its CPD requirement will ensure that our knowledge of the law and robust procedures mean that you will not get fined for breaking the law
As with most things in life, you get what you pay for. Our fees are competitive but reflect the cost of being a regulated, professional agent with High Street premises providing the personal service you deserve.