Why Landlords Still Need Letting Agents Despite Changing Regulations
20 July 2017 3734 Views
With a host of changing regulations hitting the private rental sector, some landlords may be put off using letting agents, but leading Landlord Insurance provider Just Landlords believes that letting agents are still a valuable part of the rental process.
The news that letting agents will be banned from charging fees to tenants has been met with caution in the private rental sector. Many property professionals are fearful that agents may pass on these costs to landlords, which may result in investors charging higher rents to their tenants.
“If this does happen, then the Government’s aim of making renting cheaper for tenants will be defeated,” explains Rose Jinks, on behalf of Just Landlords. “Landlords and agents should be mindful of the decisions they make when the change does come in, to make sure that they consider how tenants will be affected.”
Some landlords may decide to ditch their letting agents once the ban is introduced, if agents start charging them higher fees. But they should be wary of doing this, insists Just Landlords, as agents can prove invaluable to landlords.
Here are their top reasons why:
Investing in the right area and targeting suitable tenants is just the beginning of successfully letting your property. It’s essential that you take professional photographs and write a detailed description of the property in order to effectively market it to potential tenants.
Letting agents are trained in writing inviting property descriptions and taking photos that show a home off in its best light, which may be the key to securing good tenants quickly.
Fewer void periods
Letting your property through an agent is also likely to result in fewer void periods, as they will keep up to date on when to market the property and when to secure new tenants.
Tenants may also be more likely to choose a property that is being marketed by a letting agent, as a professional shop front and web presence can instil more confidence in them that the lettings process will be dealt with proficiently. If you market the property yourself, you may find that finding tenants is slightly more difficult, which could result in longer void periods.
Command a higher rent price
Although all landlords will want to achieve the highest rent price possible on their property, you may find that letting agents have a better understanding of the market and can command the rent that is most likely to get your property let quickly, and for a good price.
It may be that you have been charging too much in the hope of securing a high rent, but that your price does not reflect the market. A letting agent will ensure that your property is valued competitively, which should help you get tenants that are willing to pay an appropriate price.
If lots of tenants are interested in your property, finding a convenient time to conduct a lot of viewings can be difficult. Letting agents are available throughout the day to visit your property and host prospective tenants. This way, they can fit in as many viewings as possible, which heightens your chance of letting your property.
In addition, letting agents will have their own safety measures in place to ensure that anyone conducting the viewing is kept safe. If you do decide to go it alone, we have some top tips for personal safety: https://www.justlandlords.co.uk/news/landlords-guide-personal-safety/
Finding good tenants for your property can be challenging, especially at a time when the private rental sector is booming and demand is high. Letting agents are likely to be on all of the major property portals, which will make sure that your property gets good exposure, and will also have a network of tenants at all times.
When a tenant is found, letting agents will often (depending on the package you choose) reference them for you to ensure that you only allow reliable renters into your property – this includes the Government’s Right to Rent checks, which are a legal requirement.
Complying with legislation
All landlords will likely be aware of the heaps of new legislation and regulations now governing the private rental sector. As they are changing all the time, having someone in control of all the laws you need to observe and ensuring that you are compliant is vital, to prevent you facing fines or being banned.
Letting agents will tick off these laws when you let your property through them to make sure that you stick to your duties, including issuing tenants with a How to Rent guide and protecting the deposit. However, you must be aware that it is still your responsibility to make sure you are compliant.
This is an especially important point for landlords that own several rental properties; with so many laws to comply with and documents to keep in order, it can be difficult to keep up with your paperwork.
A letting agent will make sure that all of your files are in order, so that you never have to worry about things being lost or not being kept for the required period. They will also be able to create certain documents for you, such as a tenancy agreement, which will be to an industry standard.
Control the utility bills
When new tenants move in, which could be as frequent as every year or every six months, you will be tasked with changing over the utility bills to new customers (unless you pay them yourself). This can be a lengthy process, but one that your letting agent can take care of for you.
They will discuss which energy supplier to use with the tenant and sign them up so that the bills are all paid correctly. This takes the weight of organising new providers and ensuring all bills are paid off you.
Carry out periodic inspections
Unless you are a full-time landlord, finding the time to fulfil your obligations while maintaining a job can be tricky. This extends to making sure that periodic inspections are carried out on your property. These checks ensure that your tenant is sticking to the agreement during the tenancy – they will allow you to uncover any illegal activity, such as subletting or cannabis farming.
Your agent will undertake the periodic inspection for you, compile a comprehensive report for you to look over and organise any follow-up checks. They will also make sure that inspections are conducted at regular intervals, so you don’t need to worry about missing one.
Arranging property maintenance
While you will be required to pay for repairs and maintenance to your property, a letting agent is there to make sure the work is arranged on time, is completed to a high standard and for the right price. They may even have a dedicated tradesperson working with them, which is convenient for all parties.
Unless it’s an emergency, this method will ensure that you don’t receive regular calls from your tenants; if they have a repair to request, they can call the letting agent, who will arrange it for them on your behalf.
Communicating with tenants
If you are very busy with work or run a large property portfolio, it can be difficult to form good relationships with your tenants. Although you’re not expected to be their friend, it is essential that you have a decent rapport with them, in case any issues arise throughout the tenancy.
Letting agents will be on hand to contact them and receive any queries they have, which should result in a good working relationship between agent and tenant. This makes situations such as rent arrears much easier to deal with.
If you were thinking of ditching your letting agent once the fee ban comes into force, these points may make you realise how worthwhile they are to you. If you believe that you will struggle to complete even one of these roles on your own, then it’s essential that you keep your agent – you don’t want to be caught out by new regulations or not sticking to your responsibilities!
It is recommended that landlords choose an accredited letting agent, to guarantee that they will observe a strict code of conduct when managing your property.
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