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  • Buy-to-Let

    Agent - tenant find - landlord back-up?

    Hi

    I am going to use a letting agent on a tenant find only basis. The property is a 30 min drive away, and I feel I have the time to manage it myself as I work part-time. In regards to the tenant find service what tips do more experienced landlords have.

    When the agent carries out referencing, do I get to have a copy of the documents or is this against data protection. Also, I was thinking that when a suitable tenant is found, I should go and meet/interview them myself before agreeing to rent to them. Even an added bit of security I was thinking of only letting to tenants who qualify for RGI. However, I have been informed that this will limit the possible applications and also increase my voids especially as we are so near to Christmas.

    Any tips greatly appreciated.

    Mez

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    Yes you must insist the agent gives you a copy of the reference.  They may quote data protection as a reason not to give it to you, but you can firmly assure them that this is not against data protection and you need a copy of the reference in case of any issues in the future. 

    Do not rely on them sending you a copy later, when you have issues as you may find them not so forthcoming. 

    Also you need to be the person to have the final say on your new tenant, so let the agents know now that you will need see a copy of the reference and want to meet the new tenant first before confirming to the agent to proceed.

    The only issue with that may be if the tenant has to pay the agent for referencing, in which case the prospective tenant may not be keen to pay if they know you will then want to meet them after and only then will they know if they may rent the property. 

    Whether insisting only tenants who qualify for RGI be considered, it really depends on what type of property you are renting and it's location.  In my area, if I insisted on only RGI tenants my properties would not be filled as many come from overseas.

    You are in charge and need to let the agency know what you want, don't let the agency dictate to you how it will work.
    Best wishes

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    Hi Mez,

    I self manage and after having used an agent in finding tenants for me for years, these days I don’t see their added value any more.

    My properties are all within 20 minutes too, I advertise through Openrent and make sure that my advertising will generate the sort of enquiry I want, e.g. I add a minimum household income and that applicants must be in employment for at least 2 years.

    I then speak to the applicants on the phone and meet them in person in the property, by this time I will have quite a good idea whether I want them in my property or not. 

    I get Openrent to do my referencing for £20, I could do it myself but somehow feel a bit embarrassed about asking for so many personal papers, ie bank statements, etc but frankly no one anyway bats an eyelid for having to pay £20 for referencing especially since they don’t pay agents’ fees.

    I usually let to people who would pass RGI, even if I don’t take it out. I prefer to have a vacant property a bit longer, rather than have the wrong people in it.

    I have in the past let to people who didn’t have the appropriate papers to pass referencing but I had a good feeling about them and they didn’t disappoint.

    I think it’s a good idea to get to know your tenants.

    Good luck


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    All good points above. My only concern would be your safety going inside property with strangers. Bring something/someone to protect you and perhaps get some ID in advance.

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    Tax advisor and mortgage broker

    stuart@johnsonsca.com

    02039077022

    Hi I would initially meet at the agents office

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    Thanks for the responses guys, some excellent tips.

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    Dear Meze,

    many landlords self manage and more want to do so as we see our profit margins squeezed by the government's attack on the sector. I therefore wish you well with self managing in the current political and legal climate.

    There are now over 150 pieces of legislation that affect landlords and some of these now come with criminal liabilities if you get it wrong. I don't doubt that you are aware of all the current laws, or the upcoming changes from things like the Homes (Fit for Human Habitation) Act. There are no problems self managing as long as you go in well informed and are prepared to put the time in to keep updated.

    I started my own letting agency as the number of my own properties grew too large to handle myself. I would now never consider self managing as the potential liabilities are too great. Tenants are becoming ever more aware of their rights, and too often keen to escape their responsibilities, when it comes to rental property. A good letting agent will take both the worry and the liability from most (but not all) of the work involved in being a landlord.

    Some landlords are happy to pay for the assurance their legal obligations are covered by a knowledgeable professional who has taken the time to keep up to date. Some want to take the time to do it themselves to save money. Both options can work well.

    As an agent I see too many properties that are not well managed. This is often not through any ill intent by the landlord but simply because they were not aware of their legal duties or didn't put the time into managing the property that it requires.

    It may not be a cool place to say this in this forum, but there is more to being a landlord that sticking an add on Openhouse and waiting for the rent to come in. It may have worked in the past but that approach can now come with a hefty legal bill if you are not on the ball, and things are getting more complicated for landlords every month.

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    Andrew McCausland

    Managing Director Hamilton Square Estates Ltd

    Proprietor Wirral Property Group

    Sourcing and renovating investment property since 1994

    One of the issues I have with agents is that even though they represent your interest, ultimately as a landlord you are still legally responsible.

    If we're paying agents to manage for us, why can't they take legal responsibility for their actions? i.e. if they collect a deposit but don't protect it, the landlord is still responsible and liable!

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    My last letting agent’s last day working for me was the day when I had to update him on the latest changes in regulation.

    Also, it REALLY annoyed me that although I paid him a monthly fee he added his fees on top of any repairs that had to be made and was not incentivised to shop around. So a change of tap suddenly cost £420, including the plumber’s fees+VAT, the letting agent’s fees + VAT. Now the same costs £45.

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    Hi Mez

    Try and do the letting yourself. Along side the agent. It is always better when you do it yourself and you will save a lot of money.

    1. I use Open Rent a lot, they have been brilliant! I always use the basic package, £29.99, I think.
    2. I have viewings on one day, all within 2 hours at most.
    3. I book 6 people in, expect that only 3 will turn up.
    4. Make sure your property is dressed: bed sheets, cushines etc (If you have furniture)..
    5. Do the referencing through Open rent.
    6. I don’t use their full package with the contract. They make it difficult for you to find the stand alone reference. Did around it is there.

    You can can pick and choose the right person for your property. 

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    In regards to staying up to date. I'm a member of RLA and every year attend at least one course to stay up to date with my responsibilities.

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