The Simple Landlord Insurance Guide – What you need to know when choosing a letting agent
As a landlord, choosing a letting agent can be a daunting and sometimes an overwhelming prospect. With occasional problem cases receiving significant publicity in the press, this can lead to landlords having a negative view of the letting agent industry, and in turn, make choosing an agency a nerve racking and scary prospect
Here at Simple, we have put together a short guide with some top tips to help you choose the right letting agent, and hopefully ensure that your experience of the letting industry is a positive one.
What level of control do you want to give a letting agent?
Before you start searching for a letting agent, it is important to decide what level of management and control you want to give them. Do you want them to let only, or do you want them to have full management of the property?
Letting only means the agent would not be responsible for any on going management of the property. Full management would mean the agent would take care of virtually everything, from finding tenants, collecting rent and full property management.
If you are intending to manage the property yourself you need not worry about their management services and can instead just focus on their marketing expertise and property portfolio.
Check the letting agent is a member of a redress scheme
The second check you will need to make is that the agents are a member of one of three approved redress schemes that all letting agents will be required to join from 1st October 2014. The three schemes are The Property Ombudsman (TPO), Ombudsman Services Property and The Property Redress Scheme (TPRS). These schemes are in place to ensure that landlords and tenants can expect a fair and reasonable resolution to any dispute they may have with their agent.
You will also want to check their local knowledge and what marketing platforms they use. Local knowledge is invaluable when it comes to letting, and you need to know they will be advertising your property across different platforms to ensure they are reaching a wider audience.
Check the letting agent is a member of a professional body
Once you have found the agent you may want to work with, there are a number of basic checks that you will want to do before confirming. The first one is to check that the letting agent belongs to a professional organisation such as The Property Ombudsman (TPO), The National Approved Letting Scheme (NALS), The Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA), The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) or The National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA)
These professional bodies ensure that their members keep up to date with any changes to legislation and are adhering to a strict code of conduct.
Simple Tip: Always double check the official website, to make sure the agent is still a registered member of the body.
What insurance should the letting agent have?
Professional indemnity insurance (PII) – PII is a form of liability insurance that provides cover for the financial consequences of professional negligence or misleading advice. If anything goes wrong there would be a complaints procedure available for you to follow.
Client Money Protection (CMP) –It is not a legal requirement for letting agents to have CMP in place; however it is an important factor to take into consideration. CMP will protect you as a landlord and your tenant if for any reason the letting agent closes down. Without this in place you will be liable for any loss incurred, including your tenants deposit if the agent hasn’t sent the tenants money to the deposit scheme in time.
What is important to you as a landlord?
Once you have decided the level of management you want from your agent you need to think about what is most important to you as a landlord. Are you just looking for the highest rental income you can achieve or are you more concerned with the quality and type of tenant?
Ask other landlords for recommendations
Do you know any other landlords in the area? Check out local forums for reviews and ask around for peoples experiences of local agents and if there are any they would personally recommend. This is a great starting point and should give you a good list of agents to look into further and also highlight any you may want to avoid!
Simple Tip: Call the estate agent as a prospective tenant- this will give you an insight into how they handle tenant enquiries.
Don’t just stop at one- advertise with multiple letting agents
Unlike with estate agents there are no penalties with instructing multiple letting agents to advertise your property. Make sure you check their T&Cs fully and express they are instructed to verify the status of the property prior to any paperwork being signed (to prevent two separate tenants attempting to be referenced at the same time).
Simple Tip: Choose carefully if using multiple agencies. There is a fine line between reaching a wider audience and overexposing your property in the market as this can appear desperate.
If you get a good letting agent they can be worth their weight in gold and we hope this short guide will help you with your search.