Should You Use A Letting Agent?
Do you consider yourself a professional landlord? If you let any kind of property, you should; even if you let just one house, you are subject to the same legal requirements as property developers with a whole string of property under their belts.
Of course, career landlords will have trusted agents or employees to take care of all the formalities, from finding tenants to dealing with their issues and the fees will be absorbed by the scale of their business. If you have one or a couple of properties to let, agents’ fees can make a considerable dent in your income. So, should you use a letting agent? And what can you expect from an agent if you do employ one?
The Letting Agent’s Job
Letting agents are there to relieve the stress of being a landlord, helping to make sure that a property maintains its rentable value and continues to be a workable investment for the owner. If the landlord is short on time, a letting agent can help to fill a property quickly and smoothly, from making sure that the tenants pass the referencing and credit requirements at the beginning of a tenancy to ensuring that rent is paid, renewing and reviewing tenancies and dealing with maintenance issues.
By using a letting agent a landlord can make sure that they meet the ever changing complex legal requirements that are in place for landlords for their protection and that of their tenants. For landlords renting properties that are not local to them, letting agents offer a crucial nearby contact with the tenants, on hand to deal with queries, repairs and property inspections. However, with rates that range from 10-20% of the rental income, a letting agent may not be viable for many landlords.
One way of circumnavigating the costs associated with letting agents is to employ an agent to find tenants, and then manage the tenancy yourself. This will mean that you are in charge of repairs and maintenance; you will be the first point of contact for the tenants’ every whim and you will have to make the decision about the best action to take.
So, Should You Use A Letting Agent?
If you have the time, maintenance contacts and business head to take care of the tenancy yourself it is well worth considering doing so. If you consider the money that you are saving on a letting agent versus the time you spend dealing with your tenants, you will probably come out on a reasonable hourly rate for your own letting services.
If you do not live near your rental property, if you don’t have the time or the inclination to deal with your tenants personally, it is worth looking around for a good letting agent. Make sure that you understand fully what is included in the package that you are paying for; a letting agent who will simply phone you to tell you there is a leak and that you have to deal with it is not really worth the money, whilst a letting agent who will get quotes from local trusted traders and present you with a range of solutions to a problem could be invaluable.
Every tenant, every property and every landlord is unique but there are a few things to bear in mind, particularly if you are renting out for the first time: tenants are typically much less tolerant of “quirks” than homeowners; no matter how nice and tidy a prospective tenant appears, references and credit checks can save you a lot of trouble down the line, which means that, unless you are renting to someone you know well, a letting agent could be an investment that you can’t afford not to make.
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