6 min Read
21 Aug 2012

Written by Liam

Over 30 years experience in financial services, residential lettings and property sales. Director of a leading national estate agency chain, until leaving in 2008 to pursue other commercial interests. Vast experience in new business development, business change, management development and business strategy.

More about Liam

Being a landlord: Using a letting agent vs doing it yourself

 If you are a landlord, or are planning to be one in the near future, one of the first questions you have to answer is ‘do I use a letting agent or do I do it myself’. To help solve this dilemma, here is an analysis of what services a letting agent can provide and whether doing it yourself is a feasible option.

Marketing

A letting agent can prepare a marketing plan for your property which will include setting a competitive rent together with internet and newspaper advertising to secure a tenant. You can prepare your own marketing plan but it will require some research regarding setting an appropriate rent and a financial outlay will be required to implement the advertising. It's worth remembering that generally a letting agent will not charge you anything until the property is let.

Tenant referencing

One area that is often overlooked by landlords is the comprehensive referencing of prospective tenants. Cutting corners in this area can just store up trouble for the future with poor paying tenants seriously eroding any potential profit. A letting agent is able to reference prospective tenants quickly and will exclude any potential problem applicants.

Preparation and signing of Tenancy Agreements

Tenancy Agreements are available for download on the internet so this does not pose a major problem for a go-it-alone landlord. It is, however, preferable to do this process face to face rather than through the post, which is easily facilitated through the branch of a letting agent.

 Inventory

It is vitally important that the landlord carries out a full inventory of his/her premises prior to the commencement of any letting. The contents of this inventory must be agreed with the incoming tenant to ensure that there are no future disputes. A letting agent will carry out this inventory at both the start and the end of a tenancy and by providing a third party assessment may help to reduce the number of disputes.

 Security Deposit

From 6th April 2007, all deposits taken by landlords and agents have to be protected by a government authorised tenancy deposit scheme. All letting agents will have a scheme already set up making it easier than arranging one yourself.

 Insurance

A landlord will need to arrange building and contents insurance specifically for a tenanted property, which is easy enough to do. A letting agent will already have schemes available for a Landlord, usually at very competitive rates, they can also provide rent indemnity insurance which covers non-payment of rent.

Rent Arrears

Every landlord’s nightmare is non-payment of rent and it's important that this is handled correctly. If you decide to handle this yourself then you will need to do some research on the do's and don'ts regarding rent arrears and eviction. Letting agents are fully conversant with all the legalities in this area and will ensure prompt action to address any issues.

 Property Maintenance

If you are a bit of a handyman then this area may not pose any particular problem, but be aware that things do go wrong in the middle of the night, so go-it-alone landlords can expect early hour calls from time to time. Letting agents have numerous contacts with professionals in all areas of property maintenance and can arrange for quotes or emergency call-outs for any repairs.

Compliance with legislation

Letting legislation is a minefield with laws covering  Gas Regulations, Electrical Safety and Furniture and Furnishings to name a few. This is one area that a landlord going it alone can really fall down, as they will need to keep up with the ever changing legal landscape. Letting agents, on the other hand, deal with these issues on a daily basis and can keep you fully briefed regarding your responsibilities.

 Conclusion

One of the first things to understand is that the easy option is to use a letting agent, however, they will charge a fee for every part of their service which can mount up. Most letting agents will have different levels of service, so at the lower level you can use them just to find you a tenant, or else use the top end service and just sit back and relax. There is nothing regarding letting a property that cannot be carried out by the landlord, but you will need to do some studying on the legal requirements and be prepared to be disturbed in the middle of the night for that 'emergency' repair.

Image: Danilo Rizzuti / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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Comments

  1. SL November 18, 2012 at 8:44 pm

    R.e insurance. Most agents don’t have the correct fsa permissions to administer buildings policies, but proceed act in this manner which is against legislation. An agent can only get an insurance company to contact a landlord but the cost would be the same if the landlord bypassed an agent. The agent will get paid a healthy commission so this doesn’t really benefit a landlord.