relationship that landlords have with their letting
agents is critical. There are good letting agents, some
average agents and many poor agents. Getting the right
agent will make the difference between a successful
or a stressful investment. But how do you find a good
agent, manage that relationship and make it work for
investors manage their own properties. I do manage a
number of my own properties but on the whole I use a
letting agent. I don’t want tenants ringing me
up at any hour and I don’t want the hassle of
having to deal with some tenants on a regular basis.
Remember that letting agent’s fees are deductable
against tax so they are quite a low cost. Finding
a good letting agent can be hard. I have a number of
letting agents as I have properties in different areas.
way that I choose a new letting agent is:
Recommendations from other landlords
Choose 3 agents in the local area and visit them all
Check their organisation skills – ask them to
do three things. These can be quite small as posting
terms & conditions, e-mailing you their contact
details and confirming their tenancy deposit scheme.
Check that they do this, if they don’t they
haven’t noted your request or just haven’t
done it – either way this displays poor organisation.
Don’t take them at face value – many people
can talk a good game but don’t deliver.
When you have appointed a letting agent, check this:
Is the rent paid to you on a regular and timely basis?
Are regular inspections undertaken (with photos &
report) – at least once a year, preferably twice.
Is there swift communication of any problems?
Are repairs a sensible price? Spot check repair prices
with local tradesmen.
When vacant – is the property being properly
marketed? i.e. is a board up, is it on the internet
and is it in the paper?
is very worthwhile spending some time building a relationship
with your letting agent. Be professional, don’t
waste their time but make them aware that you expect
to be at the top of their priority list and that a good
service is needed at all times. Praise them when they
do a good job and constructively criticise when a poor
job is done. Remember that problems occur and it won’t
always be the letting agent’s fault. Having a
frank but good rapport with your letting agent helps
when there is a problem. You don’t want your letting
agent to put off ringing you if there is a problem.
If a letting agent is poor then change them but be careful
to check the letting agent’s terms and conditions
to see if you and you tenant are tied into them.
reputable letting agents will be members of ARLA (Association
of Residential Letting Agents). This is a useful framework
which describes what the agent should be doing and how
to resolve disputes. Go to www.arla.co.uk for more information.
Tenancy Contracts &
letting agent should create a number of documents for
you. They are:
AST – tenancy contract
Inventory – list of fixtures and fittings
Letting Agency Terms & Conditions
Periodic inspection reports
Gas Safety Certificate (legal requirement)
Electrical Certificate (currently optional but recommended)
TDS – Tenancy Deposit Scheme notification
Energy Performance Certificate - from 1/10/08.
tenancy contracts are called ASTs (Assured Shorthold
Tenancy agreements). These replaced regulated tenancy
agreements in the 1980’s. Regulated tenancy agreements
were very restrictive for landlords. The rent was very
low and it was almost impossible to get rid of a bad
tenant. It was also possible for tenants to pass a regulated
tenancy agreement to other family members.
introduction of ASTs has introduced better rights for
landlords. The agreements tend to be 6 or 12 month contracts.
Most turn into rolling contracts if they are not replaced
with a new contract. This means that at the end of a
tenancy agreement the tenant needs to give one month’s
notice to end their tenancy, landlords need to give
two months notice to end an agreement.