Apr 12, 2024

Our Top Tips for Landlords to Find the Right Letting Agents

The UK rental market has seen a boom in recent years. Many are struggling to save enough for a deposit and are unable to afford a mortgage in the area they want to live in. The problems have been exacerbated by the cost-of-living crisis, which has pushed interest rates higher leaving no option for many people but to rent.

The buy-to-let market has naturally grown during this time as property owners expand their portfolios to take advantage of the state of the rental market.

Whilst the majority of letting agents act in a professional and trustworthy manner, the buoyancy of the buy-to-let market has also brought with it a marked increase in the number of unscrupulous letting agents out to make quick and easy profits.

Amidst a busy letting market, landlords need to make informed decisions when selecting the right agents. That’s why we’ve created this guide to help you avoid the pitfalls and ensure that you select the right partner to help fill your property.


Do your research

Research is the first step when selecting a letting agent to look after your property. It may sound obvious, but many people are unsure of how to research a letting agent and the key factors to consider.

As a starting point, we would recommend checking to see if they are a member of the National Approved Letting Scheme (now known as safeagent) or another reputable body. Agents taking the time to sign up to such accreditation schemes agree to adhere to certain standards of professionalism and customer service.

According to the safeagent website, tenants and landlords can have confidence in safeagent approved firms because they have agreed to:

  • Meet defined standards of customer service
  • Be part of a Client Money Protection Scheme
  • Have a written customer complaints procedure available on request offering adjudication through a redress scheme
  • Have current Professional Indemnity Insurance
  • Hold a dedicated client bank account designated as only holding clients’ money
  • Commit to an annual independent inspection of their client accounting procedures

These requirements and service standards provide protection and security for both tenants and landlords.

Aside from accreditation from professional bodies such as safeagent, the best way to understand the trustworthiness and professional standards of an agent is via word of mouth. Recommendations and endorsements from friends, family or colleagues can help you make an informed decision on which agent to appoint and give you great peace of mind when making your final decision.


Does their service match your needs?

Before you appoint a letting agent, you need to carefully consider the services you need and aim to ensure a good match with those being offered. Letting agents can provide a wide array of services, from a simple one-off tenant search through to full property management in Birmingham. Finding the service level that’s right for you is an important step to ensure you’re not paying out more than you need to.

By law, letting agents must be transparent about the services they provide. This includes clearly displaying their service level and fee options in branch and on their website. This will allow you to compare and contrast between agents to find the right service level at a price that suits you.


Do they deal with legislative issues?

The safety of your tenants is paramount, which is why there are legal requirements in place to ensure your property meets the standards set by the Government.

These requirements, such as gas and electricity safety checks, are non-negotiable. This means either you as the Landlord, or your agent, need to take responsibility for them.

When selecting your agent you will need to check whether they deal with such legal requirements (and how much they charge) and fully understand the liabilities of all parties.


Are they vetting prospective tenants?

As much as you need to appoint the right letting agent, you’ll also want to ensure you have the right tenant. The vetting process is an incredibly important part of property letting, so you’ll need to consider your prospective agent’s approach.

Ask questions and become familiar with their process – and also don’t be afraid to make suggestions of your own if you’re not satisfied their approach is robust enough.

Getting the tenant right the first time will help to prevent problems in the long-run. Interviews and references from reputable sources can help you and your agent to find the perfect match, so you don’t end up chasing payments from a tenant from hell.


Check their fees

The lettings process can be complicated. With varying levels of service available, there may be ‘hidden’ fees to consider before you make your final decision.

An open and transparent agent will be up-front about all fees from the outset, but ultimately it is your responsibility when appointing an agent to make sure that you are fully aware of all fees you may incur. This way you won’t be landed with any nasty surprises at a later date.

Some examples of additional costs include vacant property fees, individual service charges, renewal commissions, admin fees and estate agency fees. Ask your prospective agent about all of these to understand if they will apply to your agreement.


What are the benefits of using a letting agent?

Letting a property can be a minefield, so there are numerous benefits to using an experienced and reputable letting agent to fill (and possibly manage) your vacant property.

Letting agents with a proven track record in the industry will be well aware of the common pitfalls and will be able to help you avoid them. After all, it’s in everyone’s best interests for a tenancy to run as smoothly as possible to allow you to maximise the return on your investment.

In general, a good agent will help you let your property quicker, for more money, to a good calibre tenant – giving you peace of mind that your property is in safe hands.

They will also be able to offer support with:

  • Maximising income – making suggestions of ways to boost the rental value through property enhancements
  • Marketing – helping your property to be seen by the right audience in the right way at the right time; for more info, find out how to market and advertise your property successfully.
  • Supporting the tenant search – for example by arranging viewings and providing professional floor plans and quality photos
  • Legislative guidance – giving you peace of mind that your legal requirements are being met
  • Tenant vetting and contracts – finding the right fit for your property and covering all legal aspects of the agreement
  • Property maintenance – keeping your property in top condition to maintain your rental income
  • Tenant relationships and dispute resolution – dealing with potentially difficult situations on your behalf

Appointing a letting agent is a big decision. Following the above guide before you sign the contract will help to give you peace of mind that you have undertaken all due diligence to appoint a reputable agent to support your aims.

If the agent satisfies all of the above points, and you feel as though you can work with them, it’s probably safe to assume that you will be in good hands.

Henley Charles has been serving the local Birmingham areas for years. No-one understands the local property market like us. Pop in and have a chat, or get in touch with the office closest to you via phone or email. We can’t wait to speak with you.