Renting out a property may seem like an easy way to make money, but it can often be extremely complicated.
If you’re a newcomer stepping into the ‘buy-to-let’ market for the first time, you might be tempted to rent your property out privately yourself - maximising profits by saving the fees you would have paid to a letting agent.
But unless you’re experienced at letting out properties (and know the complex laws and regulations involved), we wouldn’t advise going it alone.
At Garness Jones, we believe the role of a good letting agent is to make the life of a landlord easier.
10 essential services a good letting agent should do
1: Market your property
Before choosing which agent to use, the ones who are in the frame should visit your property to carry out a free rental assessment and determine its potential market value. Once you’ve agreed on the rent and chosen which letting agent to use, their first job is advertising the property, with highly viewed specialist websites a must for your property.
Taking a selection of impressive photos and writing an engaging description that encapsulates your property’s best features, as well as details on locality, is essential to bring it to market in the most appealing way.
2: Work hard to find suitable tenants
A good letting agent shouldn’t just market your property or properties and hope for the best, they should know the complexities of the local rental market like the back of their hand.
This means they should be taking a pro-active approach to letting your properties and if they don’t move quickly be suggesting reasons why and different approaches that can be taken to ensure you are not losing out. They should be as concerned as you if they are stood empty too long.
3: Show potential tenants around
A good agent who’s worth their salt will show prospective tenants around your property, explain its best features and outline the benefits of living in the area and nearby amenities. Often the location and nearby facilities are just as important as the property itself.
If interest is shown or an offer is made, they should inform you immediately. From then on, they should act as a go-between to ensure the arrangements are suitable to both parties.
4: Sort out a Tenancy Agreement
When a prospective tenant has been found, and an agreement reached on costs with the landlord, a good lettings agent will draw up a legally-binding contract for the two parties to sign, minimising the amount of stress and hassle for the property owner.
5: Evaluate potential tenants
The last thing any landlord wants to worry about is whether or not the people who’ve just rented their property are able to pay the rent next month. That’s why vetting a tenant is one of the most important duties a letting agent undertakes. Get it wrong (or fail to do it) and the joy of finding a new tenant can sometimes turn into a nightmare.
At Garness Jones, this service is paid for by the prospective tenant and includes:
Identity, immigration and visa confirmation
Obtaining references – employers and/or landlords
Financial credit checks
6: Conduct an Inventory Check
At the beginning and end of a tenancy, a full list of contents (and its condition) should be compiled during an inspection by the letting agent, usually in the presence of the tenant. Some agents offer an ‘Inventory Check’ as standard, whilst others charge extra for this service.
7: Collect the rent and chase up late payments
If your letting agent doesn’t collect the rent from your tenants each month, you should be asking why. A good agent will also chase up any late payments (or deposits and fees) on behalf of the landlord.
8: Sort routine repairs and maintenance
If you’re paying a premium for a letting agent, the management service should include a regular inspection to make sure everything’s okay. Should any routine maintenance or general repairs need to be carried out, a good agent should be trusted to sort it. This is particularly useful for landlords who don’t have the time to deal with tradesmen and for property owners who live away.
9. Help you be 100% compliant
If you’re a landlord who cares about your tenants, you need to comply with more than 70 pieces of legislation (including health and safety) – and have the ability to deal with emergencies at all hours of the day.
If you don’t want the stress or hassle of dealing with this, enlist the help of a reputable lettings agent and they’ll take care of it your behalf. In most cases, a decent agent will be a member of a registered body like the UK Association of Lettings Agents (UKALA) or the Association of Residential Lettings Agents (ARLA).
10: Make your property more marketable
Sometimes a property struggles to attract tenants because it’s dated, badly decorated or in poor condition. A good lettings agent should be honest with you and let you know if your property falls into this bracket. If they don’t, they’re not worth their salt.
At Garness Jones, we advise all our landlords about the impact that shabby interiors can have – putting off tenants and lowering potential rent values. If we think a better finish will make your property more marketable, we’ll tell you.
Are you paying a lot, but getting very little?
Let’s be honest, we know there are loads of landlords who think letting agents are paid too much to do too little.
In our experience, property owners only have this mentality if they’re used to dealing with substandard agents.
If you’re one of these people, we would urge you to get in touch and experience the Garness Jones difference - our dedicated lettings team are committed to the quality, long-term customer care needed to be a successful landlord.