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Property letting through an agency or not.

(18 Posts)
LittleSiouxieSue Wed 13-Nov-13 23:47:57

I started off using an agent to find and vet tenants, and then manage the tenancy myself. This worked well for several years and then one didn't pay. It means that you, personally, have to chase it up. I had to see this young man who spoke to his girlfriend very roughly, in Polish, and was clearly blaming her for not paying. I was worried about her. I thought he could be violent. About 2 months later, and still owing me £1200, they disappeared. House was empty. My Solicitor's letters unanswered. The Police then contacted me and asked if I knew where he was but they would not tell me why they wanted him! A friend had unpaid rent for 6 months and an expensive Court case to evict a non paying tenant. She needed the rent to pay her own rent.
An agent will not stop you getting a bad tenant, but at least you do not have to face them to try and get the rent out of them. The paperwork must be watertight and they will ensure financial references are taken up and standing orders are organised before the tenant gets a key. All the legal requirements are taken care of and they will know handymen for the quick repairs. Some repairs can be expensive and tenants do not look after houses in the same way that you do. Make sure everything is in good working order before the tenant moves in and make sure you have a condition survey done so there is no argument over the mark on the carpet. An agent also uses a deposit security scheme and this is important. You also need electricity checks and you need to make sure your furniture meets rental requirements if you are leaving it.

We live really close to our properties but DH and I are busy enough without spending all weekend doing DIY at these houses. Tenants expect everything to work properly and amateur fixes are not good enough. When our houses were fairly new, maintenance was hardly an issue but now they are older we have had quite a few things to do, eg fencing, leaking gutters, new washing machines, new fridge/freezer, replacement window sill, fitting showers and glass screens in bathrooms, replacing carpets, painting inside and out, improvements to the gardens, replacing a shed and more. Do you want to do things like this yourself or do you value you time? The tenant won't want to wait for you to get round to it.

CheshireSplat Wed 13-Nov-13 22:14:17

We used an agency to find and vet the tenants, to sort out the legals and the deposit account. It was reassuring to know its all above board. I'm a solicitor but don't do property law.

We manage it as we live close by and because of renovations we know lots of good tradesmen who will get there immediately.

Our agents are good- each year they email us to remind us to get the gas checks done.

We haven't forwarded our post so pop round every couple of months to pick up the post which allows us to check the house is being looked after.

morethanpotatoprints Wed 13-Nov-13 22:12:36

we are starting with an agent, but not the management as we can do this ourselves.
You can buy a legal contract from Asda or make your own from websites.
If you let an EA manage, they often get costly friends to do the work that may not even need doing and charge you twice as much as quotes you could get yourself.

specialsubject Wed 13-Nov-13 22:06:24

I also used big ARLA agents and they were crap, although not as crap as the nightmare listed above.

service is not good but I thought there was comeback - it appears not!

IdreamofFairies Tue 12-Nov-13 22:10:53

Thanks again every one for all the advice and places to look for help.

INeedALieIn Tue 12-Nov-13 22:07:11

I second what ShockedMum says.

It isn't difficult. You have a vested interest in getting good tenants and looking after your property. 16 year old school leavers working at an agency may not be so effective.

Shockedmum75 Tue 12-Nov-13 18:50:46

Well we used an established agent, registered with arla etc. they sent reports every 6 months about the state of the property etc. Sounds good, but when the tenant left it turned out it was all rubbish.

The house had clearly been abandoned months before, mould up every wall, rubbish everywhere. Like a channel 5 documentary. Cost us 1000's to put right, the agent hadn't collected the full bond off them, nor were they up to date with the rent. Got all the evidence together and sent it off and got nothing at all out of it. Arla were toothless, couldn't really make them do anything.

I would visit the boards at landlord zone, learn what you need to know, join the Nla or similar and save yourself £80 a month.
Agents should be regulated. Anyone can set up as one, but ultimately they are just that. Agents. You are responsible in law, therefore you need to know your responsibilities anyway. Good luck with whatever you decide.

Putthatbookdown Tue 12-Nov-13 11:36:32

Start with an Agent and then see how things go I would choose the Agent that has the most business and or is well-established Having said that agents are getting more specialised some may deal more with mobile professionals and others with local people who want accommodation on a longer term basis Think of your ideal tenant Realistically who is going to want to rent your house?

IdreamofFairies Mon 11-Nov-13 20:57:45

thanks everyone for the advice. Luckily or not depending how i look at it we have had a few more days to decide a road closer delayed the house being shown.

will def look into RLA.

INeedALieIn Sun 10-Nov-13 21:54:02

Rent guarantee is a good option if you need to be certain of your incomes.

If you go down tge route of an agent, try to get personal recommendation as there are some bad ones about who may be far worse payers than the actual tenants.

specialsubject Sun 10-Nov-13 11:25:43

INeedaLiein (and probably does with all those properties!) is right, but is a very experienced landlord doing it professionally. With 150 houses one non-payer is not going to cause mortgage issues.

for you, it might! You can get rent guarantee insurance under certain circumstances.

I would suggest starting with an agent and seeing how you go. There is NO regulation for agents, but one which belongs to ARLA or similar does give you some comeback. Also do not expect them to do much without chasing... then you can only have a pleasant surprise.

INeedALieIn Sun 10-Nov-13 00:11:42

DH and I are landlords of over 20 years. We have circa 150 properties. I would happily advise you to manage your own property. It is not difficult, especially as you live close by.

If you face an issue which you are not confident in dealing with, then take expert advice. Join RLA or similar. You do not need an agent to carry out the day to day management and in our experience problems are few and far between. (Touch wood).

I am a LL and would never do it independently....unless you know all the laws and gave lots of time then an agency is the way forward for sure.

IdreamofFairies Sun 10-Nov-13 00:00:46

we have an agency that is finding a tenant they will vet them and draw up an agreement, also speak to the mortgage company. that would be a one off fee or we can choose for them to manage the whole thing. which would cost us £80 a month.

we live really close to the house we have family also very close that would help out if we should be away and anything needs doing.

the issue i have is what we would do if they didnt pay on time each month. however from what i see the agency doesnt guarantee that anyway.

we have the gas certificate and in the process of looking into the other things on the list. the house market here is almost non existent so letting it out seems to be the only option.

thanks for the advice it def gave us more to think about

tribpot Sat 09-Nov-13 22:55:15

As novices I wouldn't recommend it. I don't manage my property directly and wouldn't want to.

You can use an agency just to find and vet a tenant, and then manage the running yourselves but bear in mind it means you have to make all reasonable efforts to have repairs fixed at once - if you're away on holiday, you have to be contactable. If things go right with a tenancy it can feel like you're paying the agency money for old rope. But if things go wrong they can get very messy very quickly.

specialsubject Sat 09-Nov-13 22:49:37

you know that you have to protect the deposit?
you have proper landlord insurance including malicious damage cover and to cover public liability?
you are able to vet your tenants?
you have insurance or money to cover non-payers (takes months to get them out)? Your vetting meets the requirements of this?
you have gas safe certificates if required?

still happy to do it yourselves?

agents won't guarantee against any of this (and there are some rogue agents too).

IdreamofFairies Sat 09-Nov-13 10:30:21


IdreamofFairies Fri 08-Nov-13 22:10:01

we are in the process of letting out our house and have to decide whether to manage it ourselves or a letting agency. we are ok with the maintenance repair side of it as we live really close. the deposit and making sure they pay monthly bit worries me though. has anyone here done it themselves was it easy to manage. any advice greatly appreciated

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