We’re all aware of the importance of vetting tenants … but I believe that prospective lettings agents should be vetted just as rigorously!
There are several factors that I look for in a good lettings agent:
1. A high level of service.
2. Excellent communication. (Easy to get hold of, responds to emails, keeps me updated and informed at all times).
3. In-depth knowledge of the local area.
4. Pro-active rather than re-active. Provides solutions, not excuses.
5. Systems in place including the facility to take direct debit from tenants.
6. In-depth understanding of tenancy law.
7. Professional but caring. I want the agent to treat and respect my tenants the way I would myself.
8. Member of ARLA, NALS or similar professional body. (Providing protection for money).
9. Markets on all the main property portals including RightMove, FindAProperty, Zoopla, Globrix etc.
10. A sustained track record of all of the above.
In the last couple of years, hundreds of new lettings agencies have been set up, many of them by people, who it would appear, have little experience or understanding of the business. Many of these companies have subsequently gone bust, taking tenant’s deposits and Landlord’s rents with them.
I suspect that many Landlords are attracted by low commissions … I’ve seen some as low as 5% and I just don’t see how a business can be sustainable with such small commissions … unless they had hundreds of properties on their books.
I have recently started migrating our properties over to the National Property Group, who, so far, have ticked all my ten points above … and more!
One of the best ways to find a reputable lettings agent is to ask for a recommendation within the Landlord community. Use forums like Property Tribes, listings such as Trading Post, or directories like Property 118.
If you decide to self-manage, then Yulpa can help take over the role of the lettings agent by helping you track payments, schedule tasks, and manage your properties and your tenants all off one “dashboard”.
Whichever route you choose, you must ensure that you are organised and efficient, that rents are collected on time, raised when appropriate, voids minimised, repairs undertaken promptly, and arrears chased. Otherwise, you will really struggle to make a success of your property business.
Recognise that the people you have around you – your team – are key to that success and ensure that, when you find good people and good companies, you let them know that they are valued.
Follow me on Twitter: @4_walls
Vanessa Warwick is a former TV presenter, turned professional residential Landlord, consultant, and speaker. Along with her husband Nick Tadd, she founded Property Tribes, which is now the U.K.’s busiest on-line Landlord and investor community. Nick and Vanessa have just launched their new tech product, Yulpa, an on-line “property office/filo-fax” that helps you organise and manage your entire property life in one place. It comes with an iPhone app that does auto due diligence on any property being considered for purchase.
Vanessa and Nick advocate the use of technology and digital and social communications in property, and speak at events all over the U.K. as well as consulting for the BBC on property. They invest mainly in flats London and family houses in the South East and are also big advocates of holiday lets, having two upmarket holiday lets on the South Coast that achieve above-average occupancy thanks to the couple’s web efforts and vertical marketing strategies.