A letting agent is an agent that will take on the letting of a property that is to rent on behalf of a landlord. If you are a landlord of residential property then it is likely you use a letting agent for some or all of the property management. Managing a property or properties can be full time occupation and not everyone can afford to do it, so it makes perfect sense to employ an agent to shoulder some of the day to day work. But what should an agent be doing for you?
Initially a letting agents’ job is to find you a tenant. You could place ads in the local newspapers and online yourself but fielding the applicants, carrying out reference and credit checks and showing people the property is a huge commitment in time. Using an agent to do the leg work will not only save you time, but they are better placed to check references and credit histories, including carrying out the paperwork required.
A letting agent will likely mean that you get a tenant faster as well, as they will have access to advertising mediums you wouldn’t normally have. This reduces void periods where you aren’t receiving any rent and the property is, in fact, costing you money.
Then the most important job for any letting agent is to collect the rent on behalf of the landlord. This can be a particularly difficult job for an individual to do, especially when the tenant or tenants are unreliable when it comes to paying. By using an agent you can distance yourself from the job and they are much better placed to chase late payers and set up standing orders and direct debits to guard against missed or late payments.
They can also act as an intermediary between a landlord and tenant on such matters, which will avoid unnecessary confrontations and arguments.
Ongoing maintenance of a property or properties can also be a time consuming aspect of being a landlord. When things go wrong, like a broken boiler, damage to the property or even just scheduled checks of utilities, it is the landlord’s responsibility to carry out repairs or make sure the checks are done. This usually involves finding – and paying for – a contractor (not to mention the parts). While the cost cannot be avoided the time spent doing this can be. Employing a letting agent to manage the property on your behalf means they will find a contractor, arrange the repairs or checks and carry out payment.
The way this usually works is that the letting agent will pay the contractor and then deduct that amount from the rent they collect for that particular property before passing it on to you. This makes administration for the landlord very simple, as they will receive a statement from the agent detailing every penny spent.
Landlords should be aware that an agent will charge for these services, usually a percentage of 10-12% of the rent for any individual property and this should be taken into account when deciding whether or not to employ one.
To find a letting agent it is best to speak to other landlords you may know. If this is not possible, do an internet search for your local area – ie, “estate agents in ashford” – and contact three or four of the top results, asking for details on how they work and what they would charge for their services.
Letting agents can be incredibly useful and time-saving so weigh these benefits up against the costs before you make your decision.