There are multiple reasons why you are looking into renting property, however in ALL cases it is imperative you spend some time ensuring you select and form a relationship with a reputable, reliable letting agent that suits all your requirements. If you are using the internet to locate an agent in your area, it is not surprising to be somewhat overwhelmed with the sheer number of letting agencies offering their services but with a little upfront knowledge you can very quickly reduce the list to a few who will suit your needs.
There are several factors to look at to narrow down to your shortlist of prospective letting agents. These include:
- Types of Property
- Level of Service
- Fixed Office Location
- Professional Affiliations
- Agent Availability
- Fees and Rates
Types of Property
If you own a 4 bedroom family home in a quiet suburban neighbourhood, do not consider using a letting agency that specialises primarily in city student lets. This may be obvious but is often overlooked and is a quick way to narrow down your list of letting agents. Choose an agent that is currently listing properties similar to your own.
Level of Service
Different agencies offer different levels of service. These tend to be divided into three categories:
- Full management
- Property letting and rent collection
- Basic introductions
In all cases the agent should aim to locate a suitable tenant through means of their own channels and additionally by advertising your property through other online channels such as rightmove or primelocation.
In as much as letting agents are not regulated by specific government statutory boards, there are several principles letting organizations for these letting agents which have specific codes of compliance controls and practices that are strictly implemented to guarantee the high degree of professionalism exemplified by their members. The most prominent organizations include the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), the Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA) and the National Association of Estate Agents.
Letting agency websites should advertise quite obviously whether or not they are affiliated with these organisations and if they are then it gives you a degree of assurance with regards to their credibility.
There are many individuals advertising their services as letting agencies out there. You should take not of which agents have a fixed address and real office. A good office location sends a message to clients that they are serious with the quality of services that they provide. This enables both you as a landlord and prospective tenants a location to meet with the letting agent and discuss your arrangements or find property to rent respectively.
It is more convenient for tenants if they can discuss matters with their letting agent 24/7. The least that tenants would want to experience is to suffer the inconveniences that go together with renting a place so it is absolutely important that letting agent offer the best communication methods. They should have working phone lines that are available for inquiries during the weekends in case their office is closed on these days. They should also have a webpage or an email address that is regularly read for possible inquiries coming from tenants who reside in far places.
Years of Experience
Look for agents that have a long track record of letting properties like yours. There are many that specialise in one type of property yet may have branched out and started letting other types, especially after the recession however ultimately you should deal with an established letting agent many years experience of the most appropriate market.
Fees and Rates
Do not be immediately attracted to letting agents with lower service rates. This should be no incentive until you have a shortlist of prospective letting agencies you wish to deal with and only then when you have communicated with each remaining agency to ensure they will give you the best service, should you consider looking at the rates they charge. You do not want to sacrifice quality service and reliability for a small difference in fees.
When you have successfully produced a shortlist of prospective letting agents then next stage would be to contact each in turn. The most important advice here is to communicate well with each letting agency.
Be specific with your requirements.
If you are only looking to let to families or working professionals then specify this in your requirements, if you are happy to let your property to pet owners, or students or unemployed individuals then specify this upfront as this will help the agent enormously locate prospective tenants. Also consider whether you are looking at short term letting or only want to let long term
By using the information above you will be able to locate the perfect letting agent for your needs.