Some landlords think letting agents are the scourge of the earth, while others say they couldn’t do without them.
But if you’re thinking of renting out a property, what’s best? To use a management agency, or do it all yourself? We take a look at the pros and cons.
DIY? Or let the agent take the strain?
As a landlord, deciding to use an agent or go the DIY route will usually depend on your personal circumstances: Can you spare the time? How many properties do you have? How much do agents in your area charge? Do you know reliable tradesmen for repairs and maintenance? Can you confidently handle the legal side?
While the answers to such questions will be unique to each individual, there are a number of key general points that can be made (N.B. The ‘pros’ of using an agency are essentially the ‘cons’ of doing it yourself, and visa-versa):
• Finding tenants: An agent has (or should have!) a ready-made list of clients looking for property to rent, and may be better at advertising and marketing than you are.
• ‘Void periods’: The period between tenants can potentially be shorter when using an agent.
• Less stress: You won’t have to deal directly with tenants.
• Maintenance and repairs: The agency sorts this out (but you pay of course!). Useful if you’re not particularly practical.
• Good quality tradesmen: Agents should have access to tradesman that they’ve used before and trust. You, on the other hand, may not.
• Rent guarantees: Agents often offer rent guarantees in case the tenant doesn’t pay up.
• References: Agents should be experienced in sorting out and checking references.
• The legal side: An agency should have expertise in areas you might not – such as providing a short or long hold tenancy agreement.
• Deposits: Agents can arrange the deposit transfer and give advice on holding it correctly within the law.
• Cost: In London an agency will typically charge between 15% and 20% of the monthly rental. Outside the capital it’s usually 10% to 15%. Agents ordinarily charge a full one month’s rent every time they find a new tenant for you.
• Percentage monthly fee: You’re usually charged a percentage of the monthly rent, rather than a fixed fee – so if you put the rent up, the agent gets more too.
• Repairs and maintenance: Many landlords complain that agents use expensive labourers, and that they’re used far more frequently than necessary for ‘maintenance’.
• Quality tenants: Will they really find a better tenant and carry out more diligent reference checks than you can?
• Marketing: There are plenty of ways to market a property yourself – online as well as offline via local ads in newsagents and publications, and word of mouth of course.
• Control: Keeping tabs on what’s going on at your property can be harder as you don’t have as much, if any, direct communication with tenants.
• Personal touch: Some go the DIY route as they feel an agent will never ‘care’ as much about the property as they do.
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