I have never been tempted to go it alone. A lot of people ask me why I use an approved letting agent when it is going to cost me 10 per cent or more of my rental income? Well, basically, because it is the only way to ensure that my let is hassle-free, financially sound and that all the proper references have been checked out. I know some landlords who try to cut corners in order to save money but then you hear about the tenant from hell who won’t pay and won’t budge and the landlord ends up losing a lot more than his 10 per cent. He loses not only rent, he loses sleep and peace of mind. And legal action isn’t cheap either.
So, my advice is always use an agent.
Choosing a letting agent
The best letting agents are usually part of one of the main professional bodies such as the Association of Residential Lettings Agents (ARLA) or the National Approved Letting Scheme (NALS), which has a government-based code of standards for letting agents. These organisations will offer protection to both the landlords and tenants from incompetent agents who often operate without even a minimum level of professional indemnity insurance. Choose three agents in the area of your rental property and invite them to view. I have found in the past that the closer the agent is geographically to the property, the better. In lettings they don’t like to travel too far, whereas in sales it doesn’t seem to matter.
Unlike sales, however, you are not obliged to place your property exclusively with one agent. You can have as many letting agents as you like! If your instincts tell you that this agent is honest, reliable and trustworthy and will let your property to a good tenant, then you can instruct them to go ahead and they will reply in writing with the agreed rental fee as discussed. Some agents quote rent per calendar month and some per week but this is usually only for the higher rents. Rather like selling your home, you need to shop around for a good lettings agent that you like. Ask to see their lettings brochures and their ‘Terms and Conditions of Business’ and ask lots of questions about their various services: you will soon be able to make that decision.
• Choose an agent who is part of ARLA or NALS.
• Get three agents to view and quote on possible rental.
• Ask to see their brochures and Terms and Conditions.
• Choose an agency close to the property.
• Instruct one or all three agents.
• Agree the rent.
• Rent is usually quoted p.c.m. (per calendar month), unless it is quite high, when it will be quoted weekly.
• Agree terms.
What They Cost
Most letting agents provide a variety of services so it really depends on your particular needs and how much hassle you are prepared to take. For example, if you are going to be living abroad you will need a full management service in order to deal with the day-to-day running of the property, like finding a plumber if there is a crisis.If you are living around the corner from the property you may only want the basic letting service. This includes the finding of the tenant, drawing up the Assured Shorthold Tenancy Agreement and basic rent collection. This is the service that I use.
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