I was chatting to a new landlord this week who wanted help finding a tenant. She had a family member who could manage the property so just wanted a ‘let only’ service. I thought I’d share with you the advice I gave to her.
My philosophy is always the same in regards to finding a tenant: it’s about finding the best tenant for the property, not necessarily the first one that comes along. That means finding ‘nice’ tenants who will pay the rent and look after the property and, where possible, who want to stay in the property long-term.
Unfortunately some agents will do the minimum amount of work to get the job ‘done’; which to them means finding any tenant who’ll take the property. This is particularly true in the case of a ‘let only’ service whereby they may keep the better tenants for their managed stock, knowing that once they’ve moved the tenants in on a let only basis they’re your problem!
Watch out for agents with lots of similar (unlet) properties on their books. Is it in their best interest to get your property let or the one across the street, which they’ll start earning a chunkier ‘fully managed’ fee from? I choose to take only a couple of properties on at any one time, so as to give them my full focus.
Some unscrupulous agents have worked out that by putting a short-term tenant in the property, they won’t have to wait as long before being instructed (and paid) to find the next set of tenants. Whilst the agent will make more money this way, the landlord will suffer from additional void periods and wear and tear from the greater churn of tenants.
Don’t be afraid to ask some tricky questions of the agent at their initial visit to weed out those in it for the short-term gain at the expense of your long-term pain!
Your agent is working on your behalf and as such you are entitled to inspect any documentation the agent receives, including references. I’d suggest you check these to ensure you’re comfortable with who is moving into your property. Don’t fall for the ‘Data Protection Act’ line some agents hide behind hoping you won’t check! This should include completing the new ‘Right to Rent’ procedures to ensure that you, the landlord, aren’t left with a £3,000 fine.
You should also ensure there are no additional fees once the tenants are in the property. Some agents try to renew the tenancy agreement upon expiry, which is both unnecessary and at an additional cost to the landlord. It’s a legal requirement for letting agents to list ALL the fees they will ever charge landlords and tenants on their website, although I know a few who still aren’t doing this…