DIY landlords are being burdened with ever-changing regulations and legislation. Is it time to consider full management?

Whether you are new to the industry or a successful landlord with a growing property portfolio, the services of a reputable letting agent can be an important source of help and support. With profit margins tight, many landlords try to manage their own properties, but is it worth risking falling foul of the law in order to save a few pounds? There may be many benefits to using a letting agent that you have not yet considered…

Firstly, a reputable letting agent will have a comprehensive overview of everything that is going on within your geographic area, and this can be invaluable. The agent can also offer guidance to issues such as legal compliance, setting up the tenancy and running all aspects of the tenancy for you. A good agent really can save a landlord significant amounts of time, money and stress!

Interestingly, it’s not just the landlord who can benefit from a good letting agent. Tenants who secure a property via an agent will also benefit from many levels of protection and support, knowing they are living in a property that is safe and legally compliant. Letting agents should have access to regular training in all areas of the business and are kept up to date with legislation as soon as it is announced. Tenants can be reassured that any action a landlord wanted to take would be moderated by the agent to ensure it was fair and legal. In addition, if a tenant was in a predicament of any kind, or a property required emergency maintenance, the agent should be able to help to sort out the problems quickly and efficiently – sometimes without troubling the landlord at all.

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Under management

Levels of service and management will differ from agent to agent, so what specific day-to-day services can a landlord generally expect?

A letting agent’s work starts long before a tenancy even begins. A good agent, can market the property to the widest possible audience, offer advice on how to best to prepare that property for market, organise and execute the viewings, source contractors to make sure the property has the correct certification, carry out credit checks and references to mitigate any risk to the landlord, draw up the Tenancy Agreement, take a thorough inventory of the condition of the property, plus register the deposit lawfully on behalf of the landlord.

The agent’s work will continue throughout the tenancy. The agent will visit the property regularly to ensure that the tenant is living within the terms of their Tenancy Agreement and no maintenance issues have arisen. When the time comes for the tenant to vacate the property, checks will be made comparing the condition of the property to the inventory that was carried out at the beginning of the tenancy.

Troubleshooting

One much-underestimated benefit is that an agent can become a communication firewall between the landlord and tenant should something go wrong during the tenancy. Some landlords find difficult conversations particularly uncomfortable and it can sometimes prove easier for an objective third-party to take over. The agent can also advise landlords on their legal rights and make sure any issues are dealt with fairly, swiftly and within the law.

Importantly, if an agent is involved early enough, they can help to ensure potential problems are avoided in the first place, which is always the best solution to problem-management.

Portfolio potential

If you’re looking to grow your property portfolio an agent can help here too. Whether a landlord is looking for incremental growth or yield from a property, an agent will be able to help them find their next investment.

Professional letting agents will know what is available on the market, and many also offer a sales service, they will be aware of any good properties that are due to be offered shortly. Importantly, the agent will have wide and up-to-date knowledge of those local areas that are good for investment and represent good value.

Prior to purchase an agent can give an indication of potential rental income and possible outgoings so that landlords can create an accurate calculation of profit and costs.

Arranging an annual or bi-annual meeting with your agent is a good idea to ensure you are not missing out on any potential opportunities to grow your portfolio and maximise your overall investment. You may also be offered access to wealth management and tax advice, which is more important than ever today.

Choosing an agent

Every letting agent will offer their own specific set of services and level of support, so make sure you do your research before committing. Working with the right agent is vital. Never choose an agent purely on their fees. Find out exactly what level of service you can expect for the fees asked, how your money will be protected, and ensure all your needs will be covered.

A quick check of the agent’s online reviews plus research into any industry awards they may have won will give you a good overview of the services they offer. Finally, do make sure you arrange to meet your short-listed agents in person. The agent you choose will be entrusted with the keys to one of your biggest assets, so there needs to be personal rapport, trust and confidence between the two parties.

To find a Belvoir agent in your local area visit: www.belvoir.co.uk

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