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What landlords should look for in a letting agent

While it is still perfectly legal for landlords to manage their own properties, the increasing complexity of doing so, plus the likelihood that investors may be buying property at a distance from their own home, means that for many landlords, it makes sense to use a lettings agent. With that in mind, the team at Manchester estate agents Indlu have listed some points to check before signing up to one.

Check the letting agent actually offers the service(s) you want

Letting a property can basically be divided into five stages, marketing the property, drawing up the tenancy agreement, collecting rent, managing the let property and ending the tenancy.

Most lettings agents will be able to cover all of these stages but they may or may not cover them in the way you would like. For example, some might only accept landlords who agree to have the agent manage their property from start to finish while others might be fine with landlords mixing and matching services.

Check the letting agent’s track record on providing the service

Unfair as it may seem, you probably want to be somewhat wary of brand-new lettings agencies, although everyone has to start somewhere. If you are considering going with a new lettings agency, take a good look at their website and be prepared to ask a lot of questions.

However, you’re going with an established lettings agency, then you should be able to look into their track record and see what other people have to say about them.

You can also look at some of their marketing material and see what sort of standard it is. In particular, do the photos they use look like they’ve been taken by a professional, or at least someone who has a decent camera and knows how to use it or do they look like they’ve been snapped on a mobile phone?

Check what, exactly, is included in each service.

It is now impossible to overstate the importance of this point because it is in the highest degree unlikely that you will be able to charge tenants directly for expenses you incur as a result of failing to grasp your letting agent’s contract.

For example, you might assume that a service involving the setting-up or ending of a tenancy will automatically include inventories, but these days, there’s a distinct possibility that this will be an optional extra.

Check the notice period for the contract

As a rule of thumb, you should expect to be able to exit a contract in a couple of months, however, some lettings agencies do have much longer notice periods. An extended lock-in period may be acceptable as a trade-off for what is otherwise a really good deal, but consider the pros and cons carefully before you put pen to paper.

Check if the contract has any hidden “stings”

Pay close attention to a contract to ensure you identify any “non-obvious” fees, which might otherwise escape your notice, for example, some lettings agencies charge a percentage fee if you sell a property to a tenant.