I’m a relatively fresh landlord, having bought my first property to let two years ago. I’ve been delighted with my tenants and have had great relationships with them, but letting agents have been a different story, entirely.
My family and I moved into a lager home in early 2010 and decided to keep our original property, so we could rent it. Since then, we’ve enjoyed the financial benefits, invested in a couple more properties and are considering more purchases in the area.
We’ve caught the buy-to-let bug and have had no problem finding suitable and pleasant tenants. Far more challenging has been the search for a reliable and honest letting agent.
Our first letting agent seemed ideal, at the time. They gave us a list of tenants who could move in immediately and were enthusiastic and efficient, but cracks began to appear before the tenants had even moved in.
Confusion over the paperwork led our agent to believe that we’d cancelled our arrangement. Although we realised and rectified this error, before it was too late, this was only a sign of things to come.
Over the coming months, they forgot to read meters, made transparent excuses for missing work, charged us for insurance we’d already bought and neglected to send us our rent. These errors caused much anger and a greater amount of leg-work to fix.
Their manager is now on speed-dial, and to be fair to her, this did always result in swift action, albeit late action.
Far worse, however, was the fact that my tenants had been suffering the same issues with them. Through their poor work, I had, in turn, become a poor landlord.
I’ve since discovered that my (now former) letting agent was a member of ARLA (The Association of Residential Letting Agents). This provides landlords with another port of call if their letting agent is failing to deliver the service you’d expect.
Thankfully, I no longer have need for this extra service, as I have found another excellent letting agent, but it’s good to know there is an umbrella organisation to assist you and guide you in the right direction.
Having talked to other landlords has really helped me, too, and I want to pass on the advice I’ve learned and gathered, so everyone can avoid the mistakes I made, early on.
My tips for letting agent success
• Check reviews for letting agents, from both landlords and tenants.
• Choose an agent that belongs to ARLA.
• Insist on receiving copies of absolutely everything.
• Keep copies of all correspondence between you and the letting agent.
• Remember they’re here to make your life easier. If they’re not, speak up.
Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
Sandra Brighter lives in Bath, in her opinion one of the most beautiful cities in the UK. She writes for landlordsinsurance.org.uk, experts in finding the right insurance for property owners.