How To Choose A Letting Agent

How To Choose A Letting Agent

Whether you are a new landlord, existing landlord, an overseas investor or have an existing portfolio you need to know how to choose a letting agent to ensure that your investment is secure and that you are receiving rent each month without any problems. 

The key to a successful letting agent is to have continuity.  Estate agents, especially nationwide agencies or corporates, are known to have a high turnover of staff. 

Don’t be fooled into thinking that a large organisation with multiple offices is the best route. 

Do More Offices Mean More Letting Applicants?

The simple answer to this is no.  

Think of it like this: you have a house to rent in Hackney.  

A lettings applicant wants to live in Hackney, so why would they register with a letting agent in Islington?  

Some letting agents will tell you, during a valuation, that because they have numerous offices in London and surrounding areas that they are better positioned to rent your house quickly and for more money.  

This is not the case!  

Independent Letting Agent Or Corporate Letting Agent? 

An independent is the way forward, however, you must make sure that you qualify the company and are satisfied that they have the knowledge, professionalism and legal understanding to carry out all requests from both yourself as the client and your tenants.

How Do I Know I Have Engaged The Right Letting Agent?

The short answer is YOU DONT and that is the truth, if you search on the internet you will see countless amounts of horror stories that involve letting your house to tenants.

Destruction of property 
Non-payment of rent
Subletting without permission 
Neighbour disputes with tenants 
Excessive noise and late-night parties
Court cases

Quite simply the buck stops with the letting agent and if you instruct the wrong letting agent this can escalate very quickly.

What questions should you ask the letting agent?

The first thing is to find out how many years the letting agent has been in business so you know they have a track record.

How many properties does the lettings agent manage on behalf of landlords?

What type of tenants do they secure in rental properties?

How does their referencing process work?  Is this done in house or by an external referencing agency?

What checks do they carry out i.e. county court judgments, bankruptcy, previous landlord check, work references, bank references and ask to see a copy of a previous check was carried out.

Ask to see a copy of a tenancy agreement and READ IT if you don’t understand any part then ask.  If you have specific requirements for your house then talk them through with the letting agent.

Ask about timescales on letting the house and about feedback after viewings. i.e. a good letting agent will call you after every viewing to give you feedback as to how the viewing went and what the potential tenant’s comments were.

Ask if you can speak to an existing landlord?  You will be able to gauge how the agency has performed and the level of service that they have given to the existing client.

Remember transparency between you and your agent is key to a good working relationship.

Meet the letting agent who will be in charge of the day to day running of your property and also try to meet the owner of the business.

Try to ascertain if they have a good knowledge of the legalities and put a scenario to them.  What happens if the tenant doesn’t pay? What happens if my property gets damaged? What is the tenant responsible for?  

Take a look at the agency’s web site to ascertain properties that they have let in your area.

Ask to see a profile of the new tenants, to ascertain who is moving into your house, this will make things easier for you.

It is very unlikely that the landlord will meet the new tenants before their tenancy agreement starts, however, ask to meet with them.  If the response from the agent is no then walk away.

What Do Letting Agents Do?

It is the letting agents’ responsibility to check all references properly and be competent enough to profile the new tenants and issue the tenancy agreement.  They should safeguard the landlord from any eventualities that may arise from moving tenants into the house. The agent should have the experience, knowledge, and support from their company to do this. 

Final Thoughts

A good letting agent will always interact with a landlord at all times by either telephone, emails or text.  Always make sure that everything is in writing so that you have a paper trail. 

The letting agent should not make any decisions without consulting the landlord first.

If you let the property furnished make sure this is written in the agreement and try to cover all eventualities and details. i.e. management or the upkeep of certain areas like the garden etc.  If the new tenants have pets make sure there are clauses within the tenancy agreement that it is the tenant’s responsibility for any damage caused.

Read about our Renting Your Home Special Offer For Landlords

Compare listings