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Agents told - don't do favours for landlords, charge them instead

A former president of the Association of Residential Letting Agents says agencies should ensure they charge for all services they offer to landlords, instead of falling into informal deals which end up with the provision of services for free.

Sally Lawson - who runs Agent Rainmaker and has owned letting agencies for over three decades - says agents should “squeeze the joule” when it comes to charging.

“So many [agents] are doing things for free, they’re doing loads of stuff to help landlords, they’re not charging for these additional things. We find ourselves as people who just serve landlords rather than being business owners” she says.

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Instead she calls for a different strategy amongst agents.

“Make sure every minute you spend in your business is being charged for. So if you’re being asked to wait for British Gas for seven hours, charge for it. If you’re asked to drop keys off, charge for it. If you’re being asked to do refurbishment and furnishings, charge for it and do it property.”

Lawson goes into further detail on this approach in a video interview with agent Chris Buckler, available exclusively for Letting Agent Today readers. 

The video also touches upon agents’ responsibilities in terms of their insurance and indemnity, what she sees as a lack of structured marketing from many agencies, and the additional services which agents can charge landlords.

It’s just five minutes - you can see the video below.

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    With an increasing competitive market and landlords now being self sufficient and doing their own advertising/viewing, I wish that greedy weapons grade moron good luck.

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    Hardly a good advert for our sector. My landlords would be upset if they thought I associated with people like this. I watched the first minute or so and found it quite creepy.

  • Tom Soane

    Too right, Sally. It's not about being greedy, it's about being fairly paid for your product (which is your time). The same as every other business on the planet. Would your landlords work for you for free? No chance! Letting agents work bloody hard and it's a tough job, so we are entitled to be paid fairly for it. Keep up the good work Sally!

  • Vilesh Rew

    So you have agents who advertises and charges 10% for full management and do the management for the agreed price. Then you have others that advertises "JUST 4% for full management" and the proceeds to charge for everything they do so it adds up to the equivalent of 15%+ pcm? Yep, that latter one is absolutely-positively-definitely a great way to generate some mutual respect between clients and their agents.

  • Roger  Mellie

    Cutting against the grain, there has to be a middle ground. Sometimes we will need to charge and sometimes we will not. Fortunately, COVID has helped us redefine our business and we can work from anywhere in the world as long as we have an internet connection. Waiting on a contractor isnt the hassle it used to be.

  • Raphael Phillips

    A lot of things that we do that you don't charge for help build a long-term relationship between yourselves and the landlord. I'm not sure whether I agree with her on everything. Solicitors and accountants are highly qualified and spend many years studying. You can hardly compare that with a spotty 17-year-old in a cheap suit wanting to charge to wait for a gas engineer.

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    You must mix with some strange agents to make such an ageist and sexist comment.

     
  • Angus Shield

    I agree to a point but focussing on void periods when work is required and no regular letting fee is being received.
    We all appreciate trusted tradesmen who are price-sensible. My office often receives non-portfolio Landlords asking who we use and we guard that information.
    When a property requires updating, we charge for our time covering the key control, the phone calls, arranging quotes/opening doors, checking progress and signing-off; it is by way of a % of final contract works and agreed in advance.
    If the owner is overseas or remotely located or CV19 restricted, then it is our contacts, our time, our reputation that deserves reward.
    I have spent hours waiting for Landlord-engaged tradesmen or 'dropping off the keys' then chasing their return or pacifying irked tenants who find messy homes (our regular trades would not dare!), so a reasonable charge is fair if explained and giving the Landlord option to attend to this themselves.

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    Nothing is for free, unlesss you call yourself a refugee or an asylum seeker. And then the taxpayer pays.

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