Four questions to ask when selecting a letting agent

Dec 7, 2017

A successful property investment normally means securing two things: (1) an in-demand property, and (2) reliable and responsible tenants. However, there’s another asset which can make or break your success as a landlord: your lettings agent.

So, how should you choose a lettings agent? And what should you be thinking about? Here’s some advice from Open Door:

1. What do you want the agent to do?

This question is key. Do you want them to simply find a tenant, or do you want them to manage the property on an ongoing basis? The answer to this question is likely to influence the sort of lettings agent you select.

2. Do they have good local knowledge?

A good lettings agent will be able to give you an honest and accurate appraisal of your property’s rental value. They will also have good relationships with local tradespeople and suppliers that might be needed in a hurry. If you’re based in a different location to your property, they are – in many respects – your eyes and ears on the ground.

3. Do they have access to quality tenants?

“Good tenants” are crucial and you’re essentially paying a lettings agent for access to these people, so make sure that they are adding value! Ask a potential agent how long it generally takes them to fill a similar property. How quickly do they expect to fill yours? Do they have prospective tenants already on their books who they think might be appropriate?

4. What are you agreeing with them?

As with any partnership, make sure that you check your contract carefully. What’s the notice period for ending your relationship? Do they charge commission to renew contracts with existing tenants? What about vacancy charges if you don’t have a tenant in place? We recommend choosing an agent who is a member of the National Approved Letting Scheme or one of the professional bodies that support it. You should also make sure that they are registered with a Property Redress Scheme; have professional indemnity insurance; and use a reputable deposit protection scheme.

Remember, paying a low fee and finding a tenant doesn’t necessarily mean that your property investment will be a success. The key to a good long-term return on investment is quality tenants who are found quickly; who stay in place; and who are well managed. A good lettings agent should be thought of as a valuable part of your business team: someone who can help you to secure, retain and work well with your tenants. A bad lettings agent… well, we don’t need to get into that!

At Open Door, we’ve helped many people on their property investment journey, and we’re always happy to offer advice on choosing lettings agents. Contact your local office today if you’d like an impartial opinion.