being a first-time landlord(5 Posts)
I hope this is the right place for these questions, I normally hang out in chat and colouring in!
DH and I are buying a house in Plymouth which we are intending to rent out for 2 years before we are ready to move down (currently live 200 miles away). DH has pretty much handled the buying part as I was drowning in teacher training, but now it's the summer holidays I have the job of choosing a letting agent.
I'm going to look at some of the big ones and compare their offer etc, but I wondered if any experienced landlords could give me pointers as to how much of the 'package' it is worth spending out on? We want it to be managed by the agents so that we don't have to come down for small issues, but there seem to be a lot of elements that I'm not sure if we need or not. Any advice would be welcome!
main thing to remember is that the buck stops with you. You need to keep a continual eye on things and check that stuff happens. My current national chain agent is pretty good, but I've used others elsewhere who were diabolical and simply did not do what they said they would do.
the main things you need are the right insurances: landlord buildings and contents, malicious damage (and a couple of advertised big names do NOT include this), legal expenses, rent guarantee, home emergency cover. For some of these insurances to be valid, your tenants need to be referenced and meet certain criteria. This does not necessarily exclude those with benefits, you need to look on a case by case basis.
you need to check that the deposit is protected, that the gas safe cert is current, that the tenants have the right to be in the UK. The agent should do all this but if they don't, YOU are liable.
you need a contact number for the tenants and for the agents to contact you when stuff happens.
you also need the place in good nick, (no tricks to make stuff work), copies of instructions, smoke alarms, CO monitors, etc etc.
I have a few rental properties and don't use a LA a) due to the nightmares I've heard b) the fee and c) as specialsubject says even if you appoint an agent you are still liable (including potential jail) for loads so I thought if I had to learn it I might as well do it. I might add that I do all this on top of a full time job so it is manageable but only because we have a good list of tradespersons who mean we don't even need to be at the property. For advertising we use OpenRent and for viewings I always do those myself and at a weekend in 15 minute slots over the course of two hours- pre-screening before that to weed out time wasters. We tend to have tenants who stay a long time too so lessening the burden. if it is a home you intend to live in later be prepared for a lot of wear and tear and don't get too upset about bashed units and dents in doors etc or budget for a good refurbishment amount for when you do make the switch. Good luck.
I would advise going with a more local independent agent. That way you'll get to speak to the same person / people whenever you contact them.
If you are 200 miles away, paying for them to manage the property is well worth it. They take a percentage of the rent every month, but will carry out inspections, and after checking with you, will organise for contractors to carry out repairs, gas safety cert etc
However much they do for you, you wont be able to just sit back, you need to know the legal requirements and keep on top of the Agent. Join NLA.
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