How to choose an agent

For any landlord, firstly making the decision to use a letting agent is enough of a difficult decision. Choosing which one to use can be even more so.

Whilst the type of services offered by agents tend to be the same, how each agent organises its business can vary greatly.

Reputation and personal recommendation definitely count, but there are a few other things to consider when choosing.

First of all, don't go on the market with more than one agent! Choose the best agent for you and if they're not right because they won't return your calls or they haven't let your property in three or four months, then dis-instruct them and go back on the market with just one, new agent. This is really important as prospective tenants are more sophisticated nowadays and will either steer well clear of properties being marketed by two, three, four or even five different agents (we see this quite often) and they will often think there is some desperation on the part of the landlord and will offer reduced rents as a result!

You won't let your property any quicker by having more than one agent; this is because all agents will pretty much use all the same websites for marketing your property. The only difference is how well the different agents use the sites and the quality of the marketing, which will vary greatly.

If you've opted for a fully managed service, there are some big differences in cost ranging from 6% nil VAT from new start-up agents trying to get noticed and get market share, right up to 17.5% plus VAT often from franchised networks where they have to pay a % of revenue to Head Office. Most people tend to opt for a mid-range of 10% plus VAT which tends to be the norm. You don't want to pay "over the odds" for an equal or better service you can get elsewhere for less.

The actual set up fee or fee for just finding the tenant can also vary widely. These fees can range from £39 plus VAT as a fixed fee, right up to 75% of the first month's rent, plus VAT. Again, the same rules apply about the quality. The norm in the industry is 50% of the first month's rent, plus VAT.

Choosing a small professional team that are expert in lettings is better than deciding purely on price where the people may not have the necessary skills or experience to do the job.

Find specialist letting agents to let your property rather than estate agents who might just simply see it as renting it out whilst its on the market to sell.

Choose a smaller independent company. You may receive your rent quicker when it's a small local team paying you by Faster Payment, rather than a potentially cumbersome Head Office at the other end of the country sending out cheques by post once a month.

Make sure the letting agent has Client Money Protection (CMP) in place. You need to be aware that if the agent is holding the deposit and goes into administration for whatever reason, its still you, the landlord, who is liable to pay back the tenant's deposit.

Ensure you choose a National Approved Letting Scheme (NALS) member firm, or one which has accreditation from one of the other professional bodies such as the Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA), or the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS). These professional bodies will rigorously check applicant firms and often the Directors and Partners, too, prior to allowing membership.

Finally, and probably the most important piece of advice when choosing a letting agent, is to choose the agent who you trust, and who you feel is the most willing and the most capable of putting things right with your property, should things ever go wrong.

H2L | Old Pump Offices, Main Road, Meriden, Coventry, CV7 7NF
0845 302 2850 |

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