A landlord’s guide to switching letting agents

Changing your letting agency can seem quite a big decision

That said, it certainly doesn’t have to be as complex or time-consuming as you may have thought. For example, it may surprise you to learn that it’s not nearly as stress-inducing as switching your bank or a utility company.


Why do landlords switch letting agents?

There are various reasons why a landlord may decide to switch their letting agent, including:

1 – Poor communication

This often happens if a landlord feels the agent isn’t regularly updating them on all the things affecting their property.

2 – Late payment of rent

Inevitably, landlords grow frustrated when they receive rent late from their agency, especially when this isn’t the fault of the tenant, who has made the effort to pay on time.

3 – Compliance errors

Falling foul of the myriad rules and regulations concerning rental property is behind many landlord and letting agents’ relationship breakdowns.

4 – Cheaper fees

We’d issue a note of caution if this is the reason you’re considering changing your letting agent. After all, as the old saying goes, if something seems too good to be true, that’s probably because it is. When an agency offers cut-price letting fees, the standard of service usually suffers. So, as we say, proceed with caution if this is one of the main reasons you’re thinking of switching.

5 – Poor-quality inspections

Inventories and inspections are often areas where landlords feel their letting agents are short-changing them. Usually, this is due to a lack of attention to detail and care. Worse, it’s not unheard of for properties not even to be inspected at all. Thorough, consistent inspections protect landlords and help them to budget for the future.

6 – Maintenance issues

A good letting agent will have a network of trusted contractors on whom they can call to carry out repairs and maintenance as needed. Many landlords decide to switch agencies after problems with the quality, service and cost of the tradespeople their agency recommends.

Other reasons we know of include agencies being bought out by corporates, property management being centralised in national hubs, and, sometimes, good old-fashioned personality clashes.

Top tips

  • If you can relate to at least three of the reasons above, it could be time to think about looking for another agent.
  • Remember, we’re here to help with anything which may be worrying you.
  • If you have to pay a fee to switch agencies, pay it as soon as you’ve agreed to do so. Fail to do that and your soon-to-be former provider may withhold paperwork or otherwise delay the process.

How to change agents successfully

So you’ve decided to switch agencies . . .

In which case, you’ll need to have a new agent lined up, ideally before the paperwork and other formalities have been completed. Here’s what to do:

  • Check the contract you have with your current lettings agent. Confirm how long it is for. How much notice do you need to give them? Are there any early exit fees involved? (Remember, this contract is usually separate from any tenancy agreement signed between you and your tenant(s).)
  • Once you’re happy with the leaving formalities, state in writing that you wish to terminate the contract. Sending this via recorded delivery is a good way of guaranteeing receipt of your notice. Alternatively, many agents accept notice via email. Always ask for written confirmation that your notice has been received.
  • Create paper trails/email threads of written communication between you and the lettings agency. This will be invaluable if there are any misunderstandings or disputes.
  • Make sure you have copies of all paperwork linked to the property. That includes gas safety certificates, warranties, tenancy agreements, tenant identification, EPCs, deposit details and other things we can advise you on. Most good agents are happy to pass these straight on to the new agent. We’re always happy to contact the outgoing agent on behalf of our landlords to access any paperwork required.
  • Let your tenant know you’re switching agents. They needn’t know why, and the outgoing agent should also make them aware of your decision. The new agent will contact them to discuss rental payments, maintenance reporting, plus periodic inspection advice.
  • Let your tenant know you’re switching agents. They needn’t know why, and the outgoing agent should also make them aware of your decision. The new agent will contact them to discuss rental payments, maintenance reporting, plus periodic inspection advice.
  • Give your new agent an update on which stage of the switching process you’re at. A good one will help you throughout this process, while this is something we do as standard.
  • Once the notice period is over, collect the property’s keys, the original tenancy agreement plus any other documents, and reset any alarm codes if necessary. This is something we’re always happy to do for our own landlords.
  • Finally, seek written confirmation from your outgoing agent that all fees have been paid and that your working relationship with them has now finished, and with no outstanding business.

What if I’m unhappy with the way my outgoing agents handle the switch?

A good letting agency will have a clear complaints procedure in place. Start by making a formal complaint to the agent in writing. Then, if you’re still unhappy, escalate it as far as you can within the agency before, as a final resort, using an independent redress scheme.

What happens to my tenant’s(s’) deposit?

The new agent must transfer the deposit to their deposit scheme. This can be straightforward if agents use the same deposit service. The new agent should be able to arrange for a transfer with the outgoing agent. The tenant’s permission will be needed to move their deposit.

I don’t have a lot of free time. How can I change agents easily?

If you choose Oakfield to be your new letting agents, we take care of pretty much everything for you. We have processes in place so that everything is done properly and promptly.

We can liaise with the outgoing lettings agency and conduct an initial inspection. This is when everything is finalised and we take over the property’s management.

Top tips

Keep all information and communications related to the switchover in a separate, dedicated folder on your computer.

Don’t hesitate to ask us anything at all about property. And, without charge or obligation, we’re happy to take a look at your current lettings agency contract and tenancy agreement and offer our advice, including on how we may be able to offer you a better deal.

The questions landlords ask us about switching

Should I just wait until my contract is up before making my move?

That’s completely your call. However, if you’re feeling particularly unhappy and the contract has a number of months to run, it could still be worth considering switching.

Most lettings agents require three months’ notice in writing. But agency agreements and their termination clauses vary from one organisation to another, so check your contract and clarify the details.

Do I have to give notice of my intention to switch agents?

Yes. You may be frustrated or even angry with your current agents, but don’t do anything rash – you still have legal obligations to fulfil. As mentioned earlier in the guide, check how long your contract is for and what the notice period is. Most lettings agency contracts have a ‘break clause’ in them so that even if your contract is for 12 months, you can still give notice during that time.

Will it cost me anything to leave my current letting agents?

As long as you’ve acted within your contractual obligations, you shouldn’t have to pay anything extra; unless, of course, the contract contains terms which include early exit fees. If you’re leaving because your agency has failed to uphold their terms of business, however, you may be able to negotiate a waiver of these fees.

What should I tell my tenants?

Once you’re sure you want to change letting agents and are totally clear on what your contract says, tell your tenant(s) as soon as possible. Keeping them regularly and promptly updated goes a long way to forging a good working relationship.

Will my tenants be adversely affected by any changes?

No. And if you’ve done your research and chosen an agency that can deliver better service, the move can actively benefit the tenant. Changing agents does not affect their tenancy agreement or rights.

Your nine-point checklist for switching letting agents

Once you’ve decided you’re ready to make the switch, follow these steps to make the process easier:

  1. Check your existing contract’s length and termination clauses. Ensure you’re crystal clear about any notice periods and/or early exit fees.
  2. Begin researching potential new local lettings agents. Personal recommendations and reviews are all excellent indicators of quality, as they are with any other service. Call them and assess their approach over the phone. We’re always happy to meet prospective new landlords in person.
  3. Don’t base your decision on a new lettings agent purely on price. Cheap is often not cheerful when it comes to rental property management. Equally, don’t let any new agency on the block offering zero management fees for six months talk you in to leaving a good agent.
  4. Give your current letting agent formal notice, notifying them of your intentions. Request confirmation that this notice has been received and that dates for leaving have been agreed.
  5. Let your tenant(s) know of your decision and reassure them that the change won’t adversely affect them.
  6. Make sure you have all the paperwork regarding guarantees, certificates and warranties linked to the property.
  7. Agree on a date with your new lettings agency for when they will be taking over the property’s management.
  8. On the handover date, collect keys, documents and anything else related to the property from the outgoing agency.
  9. Finally, get written confirmation from the outgoing agent that no monies are owed, and that everything that needs to be completed by them (and you) has been done.

Feel free to contact us on any of the numbers or email addresses as follows:

Bexhill Branch

12 Sackville Road
East Sussex
TN39 3JL

01424 817075

Eastbourne Branch

35 Cornfield Road
East Sussex
BN21 4QG

01323 405553

Hastings Branch

60 – 61 Robertson Street
East Sussex
TN34 1HY

01424 446644