Thursday, 18 June 2020

Five things to check when choosing a letting agent

Using a letting agent to manage your rental property should relieve you of hassle, whilst improving your return on investment. Here are five things to look out for though to prevent you being stung by a poor performing or sneaky letting agent.

1. Legal requirements
It is a legal requirement for all letting agents to be a member of a property ombudsman or redress scheme, which ensures you have a port of call if you have reason to complain about their service. Letting agents should also have indemnity insurance to protect you against any mistakes, as well as Client Money Protection insurance, which will compensate you if the agent should misappropriate your funds. Certificates for all of these should be provided upon request - if they don’t have them, they are breaking the law!

2. Service
Ensure you understand what level of service you expect from a letting agent and whether they can deliver it. Discuss what options are available and what the proposed service includes as letting agents’ interpretation of ‘fully managed’ can vary, and this can be at odds with landlords’ expectations. Ask what marketing the agent will undertake, what tenant referencing they perform (and if they’ll supply you with copies) and what the move-in process entails (including which deposit scheme they use and the level of detail to their inventories). Ask how often they will undertake inspections at your property and what their process is if rent isn’t received on time.

3. Fees
A major factor in choosing any service is its cost (although I’d argue value for money is more important than ultimate price). Fortunately, it is a legal requirement for letting agents to list all their fees on their website and in their offices. You should question those who aren’t doing this - firstly because it’s illegal not to, but secondly…what are they hiding?! A myriad of extra fees hidden away in the small print of their management contract can soon add up. Also, ask if they add commission to maintenance invoices; this isn’t illegal (if it’s made clear), but you might wonder why organising repairs isn’t simply part of their management fee.


4. Reviews
Perhaps the best way to choose a letting agent (like with any service) is by seeking a recommendation or referral from someone you trust. Failing that, letting agents are likely to offer up testimonials from their current clients, although it’s perhaps better to seek them out for yourself by looking up their reviews online.

5. Contracts
Whichever agent you decide upon, make sure you receive a written management contract. This should set out the service the letting agent will undertake for you, whilst clearly listing all the fees you’ll ever need to pay. This will provide clarity for both parties and should help avoid any mis-understandings or disputes at a later date. Be sure to carefully read the contract and raise any terms you are unhappy with before you sign it and the agent starts working for you.

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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 clive@crjlettings.co.uk 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



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