Just as anyone can open an estate agency, so can anyone start up a lettings business, without any training, experience or qualifications…
Landlords should be alert to the different levels of experience and different skills sets of lettings agents because there is far more to the business than meets the eye. In some ways, finding a tenant is the easy bit!
Whilst no agent can avoid problem scenarios all the time, good lettings agents should have firm procedures for vetting their tenants prior to the tenancy commencing. If your property is fully managed by the agency, an agent should also visit the property regularly to ensure everything is running smoothly. Agents should also be able to offer insurance to cover damages, non-payment of rent and even compensation for tenant-free voids. Additionally, they will recognise their duty to tenants by helping landlords to fulfil their obligations, meaning that tenants, as well as landlords, have peace of mind.
Consider the following points. How selective is the agency is when recommending a tenant? Does the agency check the tenant’s credit and employment histories? The agents may insist upon a large deposit but can you be sure that the rent payments be reliable in the future?
Are the tenants made aware of the legal aspects of a tenancy agreement? If they tell you their intention is to stay for a year but they then give notice after six months, the tenants need to know that they are still legally bound by the tenancy. And you also need to know where you stand. Has the agent explained to you what will happen if your tenants suddenly leave?
Another common concern with tenants is whether they will pay their final month’s rent or assume the deposit will cover this? A deposit is not there to cover rent; it should be used to repair any damages – and often a deposit won’t cover both rent and repairs.
Tenants also need to be aware that they should treat the property with respect, as if it were their own. A comprehensive tenancy agreement not only needs to be signed and adhered to, but an agent also needs to ensure that both tenants and landlord understand what the tenancy agreement means; neither party should be blinded by the jargon it contains.
Equally, if a problem does arise, as a landlord, you need to be certain that you understand the procedures for evicting any problem tenants. Court orders can take months – and there are certain notice periods which have to be given to tenants which depend on the length of their tenancy. Make sure that your agent explains all these matters to you just in case problems arise – although if your tenants have been adequately referenced to begin with, such problems should never occur.
A good agent will also be strict with the use of guarantors. It’s important to credit check tenants’ guarantors as well as the tenants themselves to ensure that they will be able to cough up if the tenants fall short on rent.
Your buy-to-let investment should deliver the optimal return with minimal involvement and stress on your part, and appointing a letting agent is part of this investment. A good investment can make you money, but a bad investment can actually lose you money.
We know that we can offer a top-class service, covering all your lettings needs, including all those mentioned above, and more. Take a look at our Lettings Pages to find out more about what we have to offer or Contact Us now for more information.
Posted by Simon on May 26th, 2010
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