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  • Buy-to-Let

    Tenant leaving - the best course of action

    My current tenant of 2 years is leaving in 3 weeks time (no option to extend) 1bed apartment in center of Leeds and my current relationship with ladies working in letting agency looking after the whole complex is somehow cold (few mistakes on their side in the past that have cost me money has not helped make it more friendly - a lesson I am still learning of how always to stay professional and get things done fairly).
    What would more experienced landlords/ladies suggest as the best course of action in terms of letting it out asap?
    - personally paying a visit to the apartment before current tenant is out and make the best marketing material of the place to be used in internet marketing in which case how to ensure that the flat is in pristine order and representable while the tenant is still there?
    - wait for the day tenant moves out and get cleaners, inventory replacing/repairing (if any), etc and do the letting material 3 weeks later
    - anything else?
    How would you start rebuilding your relationship with the letting agent? Pay them a visit and invite them for a lunch or a coffee?
    Thanks in advance
    Tanja
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    Hi Tanja,
    As we discussed at the networking event, you have contacted the tenant direct to try and rebuild a relationship with them, and see if you can deter them from leaving. (Tanja told me yesterday that the tenant is leaving due to a misunderstanding over the date the rent is paid. The letting agent forwarded emails from Tanja to the tenant, when Tanja never intended that the tenant see these emails. This upset the tenant and he handed in his notice).
    I am still hopeful that the tenant will respond to you as I feel the best course of action is to repair your relationship with him and keep him on ... .
    If this does not work ....
    I have asked a friend of mine who invests heavily in Leeds if he can recommend a good letting agent, and he said an empahtic "NO!". Therefore, it may be a case of "better the devil you know", and stick with the current agent, unless another tribe member can recommend anyone in Leeds?
    I think it would be worth meeting up with the letting agent over coffee and try and rebuild the relationship with them. Ask for their help and advice. Most people respond to that positively.
    Before you can re-market the property, your existing tenant needs to agree to viewings. He may require 48 hours notice. This is another reason to try and keep communication open with him.
    The lettings agent can remarket using the existing photos. You can also supplement their marketing by posting on Gumtree etc (there is a whole list of free sites here on PT). If you get any contact, you can refer them to the lettings agent to arrange the viewing.
    If you have a fully managed service, the agent should do the check out of the existing tenant, arranging the cleaning etc. Prospective tenants can be assured that the flat will be professionally cleaned when the current tenant vacates.
    Does anyone else have any suggestions to help Tanja?
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    Hi Tanya
    I am a Letting Agent, I have my own company now but have been in the industry for 18 years.
    In fairness, once the relationship goes cold, its work to put it back. But hang on - you are the client!!! You do not treat your customers coldly. Sounds like the company has its priorities all wrong and that its time to get another agent. After all, you pay the fees.
    As for tea or lunch - why should you? You are resonsible for your actions, not other peoples way of dealing with them. If you have been fair in business then its up to them to treat you as a valued customer and retain you, or not. Sounds like their distinct lack of proactivity is about to cost you a void period too!
    I would suggest you write to the agent and CC the tenant asking for access to the property for onemorning next week for say, 2 hours. In this time invite 3 other agents to value and advise. Look for who your trust, who will market the property on all the portals for you and who you feel is in control. (Typically large companies can talk the talk, but the understaff cant walk the walk)
    Arrange for a key to be given to the other agents (I would have 2 on the case and your current agent as a 3rd out of politeness, if you so feel inclined) and give them the tenants number for notice of viewings.
    The market is jolly tough at the moment - dont wait!
    Feel free to call me or e-mail me if you ever wish to, I cant offer my services as you a too far away, but I can provide an ear! Smile
    Kind wishes and good luck
    Sally
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    Sally said:
    Hi TanyaI am a Letting Agent, I have my own company now but have been in the industry for 18 years.In fairness, once the relationship goes cold, its work to put it back. But hang on - you are the client!!! You do not treat your customers coldly. Sounds like the company has its priorities all wrong and that its time to get another agent. After all, you pay the fees.As for tea or lunch - why should you? You are resonsible for your actions, not other peoples way of dealing with them. If you have been fair in business then its up to them to treat you as a valued customer and retain you, or not. Sounds like their distinct lack of proactivity is about to cost you a void period too!I would suggest you write to the agent and CC the tenant asking for access to the property for onemorning next week for say, 2 hours. In this time invite 3 other agents to value and advise. Look for who your trust, who will market the property on all the portals for you and who you feel is in control. (Typically large companies can talk the talk, but the understaff cant walk the walk)Arrange for a key to be given to the other agents (I would have 2 on the case and your current agent as a 3rd out of politeness, if you so feel inclined) and give them the tenants number for notice of viewings.The market is jolly tough at the moment - dont wait!Feel free to call me or e-mail me if you ever wish to, I cant offer my services as you a too far away, but I can provide an ear! :)Kind wishes and good luckSally
    Hi Tanja,
    This scenario is why I don;t use letting agents ... while I'm sure there are good ones, my agent experience many years ago was one of agent indifference, incompetence and laziness. So I made it my business to learn every aspect of my second job ... renting residential family houses on a single-AST basis.
    Admittedly, self-managing means you really have to know what you're doing, and have a team of trades in place to deal promptly with issues. I find the marketing, receiving calls, talking to prospective tenants, conducting the viewings, reviewing the applications, dealing with the check-in ...... etc ....... to be quite enjoyable.
    Always make an effort to build a rapport with a tenant .... this is vital to reduce voids, unnecessary call-outs to fix minor items, and general tenant difficulties. Don;t fawn over the tenant, but make an effort to talk to them, their family, where they work, what the last prop was like, the weather, their granny ...... etc ...... and let them see who YOU are too. Make references to your spouse / children / where you live etc ....let them know that you are a professional, reliable local landlord and you will have a tenant for life.
    I have several tenants that have moved from one prop to another of mine as their needs have changed. That local network of contacts will stand you in good stead ... just last weekend I was viewing a prop, and the current tenant (who is moving into another of our props), happens to know the prospective tenant from antenatal classes ... what are the odds that they talked about me as a landlord? Lo and behold, their application comes in yesterday, and its a good one.
    Point being: tenants are your key to BTL success. If you can develop a friendly demeanor, cultivate a rapport with tenants, you will succeed. Tenants respond well to a feeling of "being looked after", and happy tenants = referrals, lower voids, super-clean props on check-out and a generally happy landlord life!
    My advice: learn the business, start marketing the prop now (assuming tenant will allow access - if not, bribe them!), and self-manage.
    Hope that helps.
    Steve
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    Stephen Fay FCA
    www.fyldetaxaccountants.co.uk
    'The Property Tax Specialists'
    Hi Tanja
    Good news- I would like to say that not all agents behave in this manner ....
    My advice would be to go have a chat face to face with the agents (director if possible) regardless of whom is in the wrong your main aim is to get your property let and the agents job is also to look after you as their client and get the property let and managed on the agreeable terms with you.....somewhere along the line the aim has been lost.
    from what has been said I feel your current agent is acting very unprofessional towards you
    have you tried someone higher up in the company you can go meet?
    I would imagine that the director would not be happy with the service you have recieved so far and could probaly help by speaking to the current tenant and try to get him to stay.....or at least speak to his employees regarding the lack of care etc.... next step would be to move forward and for them, plus at least another agent to get it on market for you.
    if there is no chance of the above then your plan of action would have to be to get 3 agents around to the propertyasap, I would say one big agent and two smaller agents to value the property.... check is the management in house or not as I believe in house means your property is controlled much better by the company you pay the fee to.
    next choose at least one of them ...two even better....smaller agents seem to try alot harder and word of mouth is the key for a smaller agent where as the bigger agents have more money more marketing control so there fore can be just getting you on as a number game (in my opinion and from past experience)- check all fees occurred as well when letting some agents have more fees/charges than others and some landlords do not realise until they recieve the bill.....at my company we only charge what it states in our contract we do not charge for the extras as some do.
    if I can be of any further help Vanessa has my number and I am happy for her to pass it on to you for any questions.
    KR
    Vicki
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    Have you rented your property yet Tanja? If not, here is what you do.
    1) Call your current agent. Ask to speak with the Director/Partner and vent your fustrations. They will want to sort this out for you as they will not want to loose your business.
    2) Instruct 2 more agents. It won't cost you any extra and it will mean 3 agents are competing for your business. Remeber, this is business and you need to do what is right for you.
    3) Make sure your agent is a member of ARLA.
    4) Check in with your agent at regular intervals. If you don't like what they are saying, dump them and get another agent on the case.
    5) Make sure everyone has a key. Make sure your property is looking like the money!!
    Hope this helps!!
    Paul
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    update
    Thanks all for your suggestions and advice;
    I have managed to talk to the tenant, managing agent and the head of the managing department.
    Result is that I will be looking for a new managing agent as clearly, the current managing agent is not interested in my business.
    So planning to visit Leeds next week - Thur and before that get some good agents on board.
    Any suggestions?
    Thanks in advance
    Tanja
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    I am in an action mode today and sorting out potential letting agents and my trip to Leeds.
    Great website for letting agents in leeds
    Keep you posted....
    Cheers
    Tanja
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    I had an opportunity to meet with 3 really great managing agents in Leeds the other day and am not sure do I appoint only one to market the property or not.
    The flat is now empty and awaiting painting as the current tenant was smoking which I was not made aware of (surprise, surprise).
    Now, two of the potential managing agents already have apartments in the same block and have managed to let them out. One of them has indicated higher achieved rent, with lower management fees and advice to buy tv and make the flat ready to move in with a toothbrush.
    The other potential managing agent is a property developer and landlord for the last 30 years so it has a lots of experience, the rent suggested is a bit lower then the other agent (I think more realistic) and the fees are slightly higher. They have suggested to make the place homely but not necessarily spend on TV, etc.
    The third agent does not have any apartments in the development but are expanding and would be interested in obtaining some. On the fee front - they are as expensive as the second agent with suggested more realistic rent.
    I have to say that all of them acted very professionally and timely. It makes it hard to decide.
    What would you do?
    Many thanks
    Tanja
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    I would probably go for the first one and also give the new one a chance to prove themselves. They might be keener to show what they can do ....
    With regards to the TV, let it be known that you are open to suggestions if the tenant requires anything additional to the flat. Don't spend out on things when you don't need to. Many tenants have their own TV.
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