Lettings made simple
Seven things to consider when choosing a letting agent
It may seem initially that the letting agency business is an intensely competitive one. And with such a vast number of different agents to choose from, finding the best one to let out your property can seem quite the challenge.
This Lettings Made Simple guide is something we’ve written to make the whole process easier.
Here are seven things to think about before instructing a letting agent to market and, potentially, manage your property.
1 – Do they have a track record in renting properties like yours?
Ask for evidence that they have let out properties similar to yours and achieved a decent monthly return on them.
2 – Do they have client testimonials?
A good agent will always have landlords and tenants to vouch for them, plus a string of positive client reviews.
3 – Do you actually like them?
After all, you’ll be working closely with the agent you choose, so it’s important that you like and trust them. If in any doubt, go with your gut instinct.
4 – Fees and charges
Remember the old saying that if something seems too good to be true, it probably is? That’s never more the case than when it comes to the world of lettings agencies. Unfortunately, those offering very low fees are frankly often desperate for business. And their frequently rock-bottom commission fees are often at the cost of the service and attention you deserve.
5 – Where do they advertise their properties?
Most tenants begin their search online. So ask prospective agents about the portals on which they advertise. At the same time, it’s worth asking an agency how its market strategy differs from that of its competitors, so that they (and you) attract the best tenants. Ask them what makes their agency stand out from the others.
6 – What type of contract do they offer tenants?
Ask your prospective agent about the length of their standard contracts, which would typically run for six months or a year. Check what tie-ins they have for you as landlord. A good lettings agent is always open and transparent, so this won’t be a problem.
7 – Are the agents experts on legal compliance for managing/letting a property?
This avoids any potential consequences for non-compliance/negligence that you could otherwise face as a landlord.
The stepping stones to a successful letting
1 – Get valuations
If you have a property to let out, we’d suggest asking three different agencies to help you set a realistic rental value.
2 – Choosing an agent
Look out for experience, integrity plus a track record of proven success.
3 – Marketing matters
The success of your rental project will depend to a great extent on how and where you market your property. We use many different platforms to encourage people to view your flat or house. And, clearly, the more interest there is, the likelier it is that you will attract a greater selection of tenants from which to take your pick, and will therefore be in a stronger position to charger higher rents.
4 – Presentation, presentation, presentation
If you’re keen to attract quality tenants paying the best possible price, your property must, of course, be clean, well maintained and excellently presented.
5 – Offers
Once you’ve identified the right tenants and agreed a rent with which all parties are happy, we’ll crack on with the rest of the necessary work. That includes:
- Taking references
- Arranging tenancy agreements
- Collecting the initial deposit and rent
- Arranging for a thorough inventory and check-in
6 – Completion
Once we’ve done all of the above-mentioned tasks and are happy that everything is in order, you can give the keys to your new tenant(s) and they can move in to their new home.
7 – Property management
We offer different tiers of service, from let-only, where we will find you a quality tenant and carry out the introductory work, right through to full property management. The latter means you can sit back and relax knowing that we’re taking care of everything. That includes collecting rents, arranging safety checks and handling maintenance and repairs promptly and professionally.
8 – Preparation is key
Ensure you have all the correct documents in place ready for your tenancy to begin.
Landlords and the legal regulatory maze
Being a landlord is a responsible role carrying hundreds of legal obligations. Below, we sum up just some of the relevant laws and regulations – it’s a maze you’ll have to navigate*.
Consents to let
Do you have permission from your mortgage lender to let out your property? Does your buildings insurer know the property is let out – and are you adequately covered? If the property is leasehold, have you gained the necessary leasehold consents?
This is a very important contractual document in the lettings process. An Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST) is the most common type of agreement, providing the tenant with certain protections and giving the landlord rights to regain possession. There are other forms of tenancy agreement, but it is vital that you use the right one for the circumstances to protect yourself properly.
Smoke and carbon monoxide alarms
Properties built after 1992 need mains-wired smoke alarms on each floor. Otherwise, it’s a legal requirement for landlords to provide at least one battery-operated smoke alarm on each storey. Where there is a solid-fuel appliance, you also need to fit a carbon-monoxide alarm. So don’t forget to install these in the right places in the property.
A Gas Safe engineer needs to check every gas appliance in the place before a tenant can move in – and annually thereafter.
An appropriately qualified person must carry out an Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR) every five years, plus you need to give your tenants a copy of the report. (We can advise you on EICRs in more detail.)
Energy Performance Certificate (EPC)
As a landlord, you need an EPC certificate assessing your rental property’s energy performance. Scores range from G (least energy efficient) to A. Yours rating needs to be at least E before you can let the place out, unless a valid exemption certificate applies.
Tax on rental property income
All rental income from property in the UK is taxable. If you’re unsure of your liabilities, we advise contacting a specialist tax accountant.
Tenancy deposit schemes
For all Assured Shorthold Tenancy agreements (ASTs), the tenant’s deposit should be registered with a recognised deposit protection scheme. We use the Deposit Protection Service (DPS).
Before the tenancy begins, you or your managing agent should do a full inventory. Both the landlord and tenant(s) need a copy.
Other rules and regulations
- Right to Rent
- Deposit-holding requirements
- Fire safety measures
- The Deregulation Act
- The tenant fee ban
- Fire regulations for furniture and furnishings
We can help you navigate a way through all this and more, so that you remain on the right side of the law.
*The information on this page is for guidance only; it doesn’t constitute legal advice.
We answer your questions
How much will it cost to let my property?
The main costs to take into account include:
1. An Energy Performance Certificate (EPC)
Check whether your letting agent can arrange this for you. Costs vary depending on the size of your property. We can arrange an EPC certificate on your behalf for £100 including VAT.
2. An inventory and check-in report
This must be done before your tenant moves in. Costs vary depending on the size of the property.
3. Commission fee
Each agency will take a different percentage and you might be paying your lettings agent just to find a tenant or for a full-property management service. Our full list of fees is available on request.
4. Gas safety certificate and EICR
We can arrange a gas certificate for £100 including VAT. Costs for an EICR vary from £150 to £220, depending on property size.
Who will carry out viewings – and when?
At Oakfield Estate Agents, we aim to accompany all viewings, and to do these during normal office hours. However, there is some room for flexibility where necessary.
How much should the tenants pay as a deposit and what happens to this money?
Legislation now caps the amount of deposit a tenant can pay at five weeks’ rent. And this money must be paid when they sign the tenancy agreement. Within 30 days of receipt, the deposit should be registered with a tenancy deposit protection scheme. We bond all our deposits with the Deposit Protection Service (DPS) unless the landlord specifically asks us to use a different approved scheme. Failure to protect the deposit and serve the required documents has serious implications for a landlord.
Who is responsible for arranging an inventory?
You are responsible for this as landlord, but at Oakfield, as mentioned, we can arrange for an inventory to be done for you.
When do I receive my rent from the tenant?
You should receive your rent by bank transfer each month on the agreed due date – or by the next working day. The actual due date is typically the same date as when the tenancy began.
Contact us today if you have any questions at all about anything to do with this guide:
12 Sackville Road
35 Cornfield Road
60 – 61 Robertson Street