Whether you’re thinking of becoming a landlord, you have just started out or you know everything there is to know about being a landlord, one thing remains true, lettings in the UK market are rapidly changing and the demands on landlords are becoming ever more complex.
If you don’t have your finger completely on the pulse, you could find yourself receiving hefty fines, ending up in front of a judge, losing your money and losing your mind! However, if you’re reading this, then you’ve already taken a smart step in the right direction. Yes, there is a lot to know about becoming and operating as a landlord in the UK, but it doesn’t have to be difficult or stressful.
At Lettings Company, we have over 15 years of experience in the UK and NI property market and we know all too well about the challenges landlords face every day. We’re here to take the stress away from the old age question… Do I need a letting agent?
With that in mind, here are 10 things you should most definitely consider when making this decision.
1. Getting the price right
It may seem easy. You’ll hop onto Rightmove, see what properties are worth nearby and determine your rental price from there, but is it enough?
Having the professional knowledge of a local letting agent will give you an accurate rental valuation of your property. Most great agents have exclusive access to valuable databases including agreed prices and lettings time scales of other properties nearby, as well as being able to analyse the rental trends in your area. Combined with their ability to track and report on your online advert, you can be confident that your property is priced right, and will attract interest.
A great agent will provide you with comparable price evidence of not only what is going on around you locally, but will be able to give insider information as to why properties are priced in a certain way.
2. Advertise far and wide
In the last 24 months, it has been reported that over 91% of prospective renters and buyers base their entire property search online. Essentially, everyone now has a letting agent on their phone, so you need to make sure that your property reaches their screens and is advertised as widely as possible.
In order to be listed on the major property websites, you need to to have an agent. It’s as simple as that! You cannot list your property on Rightmove, Zoopla or Propertypal unless you are a registered estate agent.
As well as advertising online, great letting agents have vast databases full of people already looking for a property just like yours, and they can advertise to this group directly too!
Your agent will write a detailed description of your property for you and take compelling photos. You can do this bit yourself, but an agent knows what looks best for online advertising and will use their experience to determine what will catch the viewers eye.
You will find that if your advert is looking top notch and your property is priced correctly, it can be rented out within two days, and in some cases, even less. Yes, these property portals really are that powerful!
3. Bookings and viewings
Once you have your enquiries rolling in, the next part of the process is to get the prospective tenants through the door and let them see the property for themselves.
Some landlords opt to take bookings and host viewings themselves to save money, and more often than not, they regret it. This DIY approach can be extremely time consuming and stressful. There are always time wasters and no-shows and landlords often feel at a loss with where they are going wrong when showing their property. Having a letting agent do this for you will mostly save you time at this stage, but they bring other benefits with them.
An agent will vet prospective tenants and ask appropriate questions before booking a viewing and will arrange viewings around your schedule. When the viewings take place, the agent will use their expertise to highlight key features of the property that are important to renters, as well as answer any questions they may have. Another great benefit is you only ever have to deal with your agent because they can speak on your behalf, in your best interests.
Moving into 2021 and a more digital world, prospective renters are likely to expect a virtual viewing before visiting in person (or not at all). A great letting agent will be ahead of the curve and have this technology in place for you to take advantage of when renting out your property.
4. Gaining vetted and trusted tenants
A huge benefit of having an agent is that they take care of vetting of prospective tenants. To do this yourself is not only time consuming, but it can also be quite unreliable. You will have to rely heavily on referee’s coming back to you in their own time frame (or at all) and you will need to ensure that the information they provide is genuine and up to date. Once you have the referrals, you will need to comply with UK GDPR guidelines, by handling and disposing of that data in a certain way.
An agent does this all for you, using a trusted third party company that specialises in prospective tenant referencing. By having an agent outsource this process they are protecting you and ensuring that all of the enquiries made are GDPR compliant and that the responses are handled securely. This means you get your references back quickly and you know that the information supplied is genuine, reassuring you that you have a trusted tenant.
5. Professional negotiation on rental income
So you’ve found a tenant, what if they want to negotiate on price?
Let’s face it, a lot of people don’t like talking about money, negotiating is even harder when you are personally standing to gain something from it and as a landlord, negotiating with tenants on your financial future is a high pressure situation.
When you appoint an agent, you will have a professional that has your best interests at heart and can take this worry away. They will not only seek to gain you the best return on your property, but will protect you from unwarranted financial requests or impractical conditions from a tenant. The agent will also stick rigidly to the advertised price unless there is a real reason to deviate from it.
6. Protection against changes in legislation
Property law is changing more rapidly in the UK than ever before. The constantly changing position of the government on issues such as Covid-19, are reflected in the clauses which govern the private rental sector (PRS).
It can be a bit of a minefield when it comes to what is acceptable and what is not under UK property law. Property professionals complete extensive training in order to stay up to date with legislation and best practice, so that they are equipped to advise and protect their clients.
If you as a landlord want to take on a tenancy independently, you’ll need to be aware of these laws and will need to check regularly to make sure you are compliant at all times. This is a very valid reason, especially at the moment, as to why you should have a great agent who is up to date with property legislation on your side. A lettings specialist is kept constantly aware of these changes and will work to keep you, as their client, protected and on the right side of the law.
7. Support for tenants
Another important reason to have a great letting agent is to have them provide property management services. When considering to rent a property, tenants often wonder or even worry about who their landlord is. Can I trust them? Are they reliable? Who will be looking after me if I move in?
In our experience, being able to answer these questions with “this property is fully managed by ourselves” instantly satisfies these concerns and relaxes viewers who may have had bad experiences with landlords in the past.
Your letting agent will have already broken the ice, made themselves approachable and created a relationship with the tenant. This offers a huge advantage to prospective tenants and might be the reason they decide to rent your property.
8. Getting paid on time
Ensuring that your tenants are paying their rent has caused many a landlord a headache. Trying to keep on top of a tenants’ pay schedule, especially if you have more than one property, can be very time consuming. But what if the tenant doesn’t pay at all?
Having your letting agent provide management services to your property, means they will have an automated system in place allowing them to manage the tenancy and its rental payments with ease on a daily basis. They will be able to ensure that rent comes in when it’s due and may even be able to offer you some insurance options, such as a rent guarantee policy. Your agent can also provide you with monthly statements, so at the end of the year producing accounts for tax purposes will be a breeze.
If a tenant is not paying, your agent will protect you. They will make all contact, supply notifications of rents due and chase payments. If still unsuccessful, they will even assist in serving documentation to move them on. Having a great letting agent in your corner for the financial aspects of your tenancy can be a life saver and can avoid you sleepless nights.
9. Trusted tradesmen
If you decide to rent out your property, it’s good to remember that things don’t always go to plan. It’s true when they say ‘it pays to be prepared’. If you’re running a tenancy yourself, maintenance issues of all kinds fall to you and whether you work full time or not, leaks wait for no one. Even if you live locally to your property, you will have to be there to save the day if the tenant calls you in despair because there’s a problem at 3am.
Having a letting agent with property management services, means you can rely on them! They will have a pre-approved list of fully insured tradesman with a great standard of work that won’t cost the earth and are available at a moments notice. An emergency line available 24 hours a day is something that every great agent should have in their arsenal. Not only does this give your tenant piece of mind, it gives you reassurance that your property won’t be falling into disrepair.
10. Agent Accreditation, staying hands off & Covid safe
Choosing an agent with all of the above aspects of service will mean you’ve found a great letting agent that can save you time, money, rent your property quickly and allow you to have peace of mind. But, how do you know that they’ll actually do what they say?
Since 1st October 2014 it has been a legal requirement in England and Wales for an agent to belong to an industry redress scheme. A redress scheme acts as a governing body whereby agents subscribe to codes of conduct to ensure they go about their business in a professional manner. In NI it is likely that this will become law within the next 24 months but many agents have already joined up voluntarily to improve the quality of services in the sector.
Your letting agent should be registered with a redress scheme, namely The Property Redress Scheme (PRS) or The Property Ombudsman (PRO), subscribe to their ethics, code of conduct and display their registration to the scheme on their literature and website as a sign of approval from a brand that you can trust.
If you’ve found an agent that can satisfy all of the above, they can certainly cover your needs and so it’s time to start your journey in lettings.
Lettings Company is a leading agency based in N.I. specialising in property rentals and tenancy management in the UK market since July of 2011. We pride ourselves on being at the forefront of property tech innovation and are proud to bring a fresh, new approach to renting property on a national scale. The embracing of online platforms, blended with professional local knowledge, personal care and attention to detail, is what sets us apart and our aim is to make your journey in lettings a stress free, enjoyable and lucrative one. We are proud to be a member of The Property Redress Scheme and can assure you that we subscribe to all codes of conduct. Lettings Company is also a family run business.
If you would like a free valuation of your property, without obligation, please visit us at www.lettings-company.com to make a booking directly with our online diary system. Our local lettings specialist would be delighted to assist you with your lettings journey.
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