• Katie

What every Landlord ought to know when selecting an agent

Updated: Nov 11, 2018

Top tips before you book the valuation with the agent

· Choose a letting agent who is a member of the National Approved Letting Scheme www.nalscheme.co.uk, or one of the bodies that support it, these are:

i) ARLA Propertymark (formally The Association of Residential Letting Agents) www.arla.co.uk

ii) The Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) www.rics.org

iii) The National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA) www.naea.co.uk

The letting agent Because they should be following codes of professional conduct and have proper guarantees in place to protect landlord and tenant monies

· Check the letting agent has professional indemnity insurance

· Check the letting agent has Client Money Protection in place – in the extremely rare event of fraud, the landlord and tenant will be reimbursed for any loss

· Decide what you want the letting agent to do for you – most letting agents have three levels of service which are:

i) Let Only – Where the letting agent finds the tenant, take up references, credit checks and check the tenant has the right to rent in the UK. Draw up the Tenancy Agreement and collate the Energy Performance certificate (EPC), gas and electrical safety certificates which all must be given to any prospective tenant. You would collect the monthly rent and deal with any day-to-day maintenance.

ii) Rent Collection – All of the above with Let Only, the difference is the Letting agent will collect the monthly rent from the tenant and chase any arrears

iii) Full Management – All of the above in Let Only and Rent Collection, the difference is the letting agent will deal with any maintenance from the tenants on your behalf (a spend limit should always be agreed) and organise the annual gas safety inspection

· Decide whether you want the letting agent to protect the deposit through a government approved tenancy deposit scheme they are a member of or if you wish to register with a scheme and register the deposit yourself. The letting agent should be able to deal with matters concerning the security deposit and issuing prescribed forms in line with the schemes timescale

Top tips before signing the contract with an agent –

· If you choose for the agent to protect the deposit, check what scheme they are a member of. Recommend checking the deposit is actually protected, as you are liable if the agent does not do this correctly

· Check the agents Terms of Business contract thoroughly and seek independent legal advice before signing if there are any sections you do not fully understand. For example, a few clauses to watch out for are as follows:

i) Clause(s) which will stipulate you need to give the agent 6 months notice to cancel the agreement between the agent and you. Three months notice is a reasonable/average notice period

ii) Charges for when the property is vacant – the agent is entitled to a fee during the void period if you ask them to check/inspect the property on regular intervals. This fee should be less than the fee charged when the property is let

iii) Administration fee – these charges are normal when a new tenant moves into the property but make sure you are happy to pay them

iv) Charges for additional services such as Inventories, cutting keys before tenants move in, posting paper statements rather than emailing, if the property is fully managed by the agent check the additional property inspections fee (over and above the standard amount of visits agreed in the Terms of Business). These charges are normal but again check you are happy to pay these

· Check the agent is responsible for carrying out comprehensive reference checks on new tenants prior to them moving in and carry out the Right to Rent checks

· If you wish the agent to fully manage the property check the agent is responsible for arranging the annual gas safety check and keeping all the necessary records

Thank you for reading. If you have any questions or wish to contact me please call 0333 772 0718 or email katie@principal-properties.co.uk

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