How many landlords on your books can be classed as 'accidental'? The ones who have inherited a property and have chosen to rent it out? Maybe the bachelor who's moved in with his partner and decided to let his old pad? Letting agents can sometimes be guilty of not looking after those landlords who've just got the one property. They might not have bulging portfolios that they hand over in return for multiple management fees but there are good reasons to keep relations with accidental landlords sweet, even if they're only using your tenant find or rent collection service.
A disturbing piece of research by AXA Business Insurance revealed a large number of accidental landlords are breaking the law. It discovered a third don't get their boilers checked once a year, while a similar number failed to get their gas appliances tested at all, even though they are legally obliged to do so. On top of this, two thirds of accidental landlords who let a property with a chimney fail to get it swept at least once every three years, leading to an increased risk of chimney fires. A third also failed to check the electrics as often as they should.
The research declined to mention if the accidental landlords questioned were letting through a managing agent but we can assume that the majority were acting without professional support. There's clearly a gap in the industry for an entry level support package for accidental landlords - 'Letting A Property for Novices', if you like. With the industry looking to tighten up over the next 12 months, agents could play an invaluable part in making accidental landlords aware of their legal obligations, thus making life safer for tenants.
In addition, a little effort now on five-star support for accidental landlords could lead to increased business for agents. Showing the lettings novices just how easy property investment is with a fully managed service might just convince them to expand their lettings portfolio. If you build an element of trust, you could be repaid with loyalty as the accidental landlord turns into a seasoned property investor.
Roy Fuller is the Sales Director of Everything Lettings - providing the rental industry with property maintenance plans, boiler leasing, gas safety care programmes, 24/7 365-day emergency maintenance cover, EPCs and PAT testing.