Thursday, 19 May 2016

Landlords: Check your property management fees

I was intrigued by an advert from a local high street letting agent offering three month's free management, only to read in the small print that 'other fees may apply'.

“Free management”...only it's not, as they add on a setup fee, tenancy agreement fee and deposit protection fee, which they see as standard practice.

Except it doesn't have to be standard practice and indeed it isn't for many letting agents, CRJ Lettings included.

I was quite shocked when the landlord of a Chichester city centre flat, let at £750 per month, told me that she had paid £1,656 to her agent for the first years management (and that was after a 'discount'). That's over 18% of the annual rent!

As a landlord myself, I started CRJ Lettings having spotted an opportunity when speaking to a neighbour who wanted to let their nearly new three-bed house in Graylingwell Park for £1,200pcm. Their letting agent quoted £120 plus VAT per month, plus £366 upfront (which my neighbours weren't even aware of until I pointed it out in their contract) along with several other ‘add-ons’.

And for what? It was an immaculately presented, realistically priced property in a desirable area of Chichester that would attract affluent tenants: the kind who would pay the rent and look after the property. And being nearly new there should be minimal maintenance and if something did crop up it was still under warranty!....£144 per month for that!?

I believe transparency is the key - you can find a full list of my services and fees on my website. It amounts to this: a full management service for just £99 per month. No VAT, no setup fees, no renewal fees and no hidden extras. £1,188 per year to let and manage your property, whatever it’s rental value.

In my experience it takes around 40 hours to setup and manage a tenancy in the first year. That's around £30 per hour based on my £1,188 annual fee: pretty good! But the real secret of letting agents is what happens in year two and beyond, when those same nice tenants stay in the same nice property you took on and the 40 hours a year input drops to around 20 hours; effectively doubling my hourly rate!

And that's my business model. As transparent as that. Cherry pick the nice properties (there's lots of these around Chichester), choose good tenants (lots of them around Chichester too), keep my overheads low and my service levels high. And it still leaves me time to scour the market for my own property projects too.

Clive Janes, CRJ Lettings.


If you are looking for an agent that is well-establishedprofessional and communicative in Chichester, then contact us to find out how we can get the best out of your investment property.

E-mail me on or call 01243 624 599.

Don't forget to visit the links below to view my previous buy-to-let deals and Chichester Property News articles:

c/o CRJ Lettings, 30B Southgate, Chichester, West Sussex, PO19 1DP


  1. What it boils down to is this: always read the fine print. I agree that in any business dealing, it is important that you are transparent and honest. Nobody likes to be deceived, particularly not landlords. Tell them the full prices up front so that there are no surprises. It is also the ethical thing to do.

    1. Thanks for your comment Kendrick.

      I totally agree, it is the lack of transparency that frustrates me.

      It is now a legal requirement for letting agents to publish all of their fees online and in their offices and yet I could name and shame many local agents to me who aren't doing that. It's against the law yet they're getting away with it and misleading customers at the same time.

      As for small print; my contract has a column to the side translating the small print into plain English and highlighting any and all fees very clearly.

      It's only a shame that on occasion this level of transparency has lost me custom to another agent who hasn't declared their fees clearly.