7 Key Questions To Ask Your Letting Agent
Are you licensed by the Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA)?
This is important as using an ARLA agent ensures that you are working with a qualified professional that will be up to date with legislation as it changes and will have client money protection in place. You wouldn’t book a holiday through a non ABTA protected travel agent so don’t risk using a non-licensed Letting Agent.
Where & how will you advertise my property?
Most tenants will start their search for a new property online and the two biggest websites by far are Rightmove & Zoopla. To give yourself as wide a selection of tenants as possible it is important to make sure that your property will be advertised on both of these. Just as importantly is getting the presentation of your property right with wide angled photos and a floorplan to make your property stand out and attract the right tenants.
How do you select tenants?
This is perhaps the most important part of a Letting Agents service and every agent is going to promise to find you a good tenant. A good letting agent will use an external referencing company to ensure that the tenants are fully vetted with Landlord and Employer references taken in addition to a credit check being carried out. As well as judging on the referencing results the letting agent should also be able to get a good sense from them as to whether or not they would make a good tenant. As a Landlord you need to be confident that the letting agent will genuinely have your best interests at heart and not just look to move in any tenant in order to earn a quick fee.
How quickly do I receive my rent & what statements do I receive?
Your rent will more than likely be paid monthly and you want to make sure that the Letting Agent pays this across to you within a day or two of receiving it. Many letting agents will be able to email you a statement with each payment but it is even better if they can give you an online log-in so that you can access statements at any time. This is particularly useful in helping you complete your tax return.
What experience do you have?
This is an important question as there are no minimum requirements for being a Letting Agent and you need to of course make sure that your property will be in the right hands. A letting agent with upwards of 10 years of experience will have seen virtually every likely eventuality in that time and will therefore know how to avoid most problems in the first place but crucially will also know how to deal with any issues that do arise.
How often do you carry out inspections?
Property inspections are a critical part of a letting agent’s property management service and so important in making sure that the tenants are looking after the property properly. You want to make sure that a property is checked at least 3 times a year but also confirm what sort of inspection takes place. A good agent will take pictures and put a report together for you following an inspection and also follow up with the tenants in writing raising any areas of concern or things that need to be addressed. If an inspection isn’t done properly then it is barely worth doing at all and I have often been to visit properties with Landlords where the previous agent had supposedly been carrying out inspections only to find a level of damage and disrepair that would have taken many months to build up.
When do you carry out viewings?
To get your property let quickly to good tenants you need to make sure that not only will it be advertised properly but that the letting agent will be flexible enough in arranging viewings. Imagine a tenant phones on a Monday trying to book a viewing on your property and wanting to view at 6:30 one evening. The letting agent doesn’t book the viewing as they will be closed and schedules it for the up-coming weekend but in the meantime the tenant is enquiring about other properties and booking other viewings. If they see something else they like than may well reserve it and not wait until they have seen your property meaning that you will have potentially lost out on a good tenant. Even better than just relying on the letting agents answer to your question would be to phone their office posing as a potential tenant and try and book an evening viewing on one of their properties, this will give you an insight into how determined they will be to try and quickly find quality tenants for your property.
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