As a landlord, choosing the right letting agent to manage your property is crucial to securing the success of your investment. So, how do you make sure you are engaging the services of someone who will take a personalised interest in you and your property? Here are some crucial questions we would recommend you ask.
What Experience and Credentials Do You and My Primary Point of Contact Have?
Get to know the background of those you will be directly in contact with on a day-to-day basis, ask about their background and experience and qualifications, thus expertise, in the industry. Enquire about how the agency is set up, who does what, will you have one point of contact? Do the team all work together in the same office to provide a cohesive service which minimises communication issues and encourages teamwork and co-operation to provide reliable, efficient and effective management? All Platinum staff are ARLA qualified or working towards their ARLA qualification or equivalent as the minimum level.
As the Owner of Platinum, I hold a Fellowship with the Association of Residential Letting Agents and I am one of the only agents operating in the area to hold Level 4 in Lettings and Property Management with over 20 years experience in the local marketplace. When I opened Platinum 10 years ago many of my existing clients followed me and I have enjoyed lasting relationships with them (and now their families) as part of building Platinum.
How Do You Determine Property Rental Value?
Understanding the rental valuation of your property is crucial to setting an appropriate rental price for the market. Ask the letting agent how they have come to the price they have given you. A knowledgeable agent should be able to provide a comparative market analysis of similar properties that have been recently let in the area and be able to talk you through how they have taken into account factors such as location, property condition and current market trends. Here at Platinum Properties we will bring a repot with us at the point of meeting you for the consultation. You wish to be looking at what has recently let, not what is listed to let. What has let is a true reflection of where the market value sits at the time.
What Services Do You Offer and What Are the Associated Fees?
Discuss the range of services the letting agent provides and what these include. Drill down into what is included in the quoted fees and what is extra, such as property visits and reports and maintenance requests and arrangements. Ask if the agent charges a commission on their contractor invoices. Ask for a detailed breakdown of the fees involved, including any additional costs for specific services. Remember, its not always about choosing the lowest Management Fee, but rather the value and quality of the service offered as part of this and the agents desire to find you the RIGHT tenant. Cheaper fees will almost always mean this money is being saved elsewhere in the business, whether it is on investment in technology, training or staffing of the branch. Where negotiators are commissioned on properties let each month this may result in a fast let but not necessarily an excellent tenant, especially if the person doing the property management thereafter isn’t in the same branch!!!! Equally, if the agent outsources services as a cost saving measure they will not have a full picture or understanding of the property to effectively manage it. At Platinum Properties we have one clearly laid out fee page to ensure our fees are clear and fully transparent, nothing is hidden. Our team are a unit and providing one point of contact we build strong working relationships with all parties, resulting in a more cohesive overall experience.
Can You Provide References from Current Landlords?
A reputable letting agent should have no problem in providing references. Speaking to other property owners who have experience with the agency can offer valuable insights into their services levels, communication and overall satisfaction levels. It speaks volumes for us that our tenants regularly become landlords with us at a later date, vote for us to win awards and provide testimonials as part of this. Testimonials are available on our website as part of the awards, Google and our social media.
How Do You Market and Advertise Properties?
Effective marketing is another crucial aspect in tenants quickly. As the agent about their marketing standards, to they include professional grade photography, virtual tours, floorplans, video marketing, AI imagery options? Showcasing your property at it’s best will attract more initial enquiries. Also where does the agent advertise and why? Do they utilise social media marketing, their database and agency networks rather than just the usual standard marketing channels?
How Do You Handle Tenant Screening?
Tenant selection is a critical aspect of property management. Enquire about the agents tenant screening process, which should include credit checks and address verification to ensure the validity of these, rental history and employment verification amongst other factors. Here at Platinum we also pre-screen tenants for suitability to ensure viewings are moved forward with motivated, organised, quality potential tenants. We use one of the most comprehensive referencing partners available (not the cheapest), the validity of this was recently tested with a tenant who had not listed on her application she had changed her name in the last few years. Our referencing partners found the 6,000 debt in her maiden name despite the lack of disclosure on her part!
How Do You Conduct Property Visits?
Regular property visits and reporting of these are essential for a number of reasons. Firstly, they ensure that the property remains well maintained and allows the agent to support the tenants in achieving this where issues may arise. Secondly, they ensure there is documentary evidence that the property remains compliant in terms of health and safety and repairs and maintenance are noted and completed in a timely fashion to avoid escalating damage. Finally, it provides documentary evidence of the timeline of a tenancy to assist with any disputes regarding potential deposit deductions at a later date. As the agent how often these are completed and how their reports resulting from these are structured and reported to you as the landlord. Here at Platinum Properties we complete photographic reports to ensure that you have clear documentary evidence of our attendance and findings rather than just handwritten or typed reports that rely upon the interpretation of the agent visiting.
How Do You Handle Maintenance and Repairs?
Find out how the agent deals with maintenance requests from tenants and how they handle emergency repairs. A reliable agent should have a network of trusted contractors and be able to promptly address any maintenance issues that arise. Many of the contractors that we work with here at Platinum have worked alongside me for 15 years or more.
What is Your Approach to Rent Collection and Arrears Management?
Rent collection and arrears management can be a sensitive subject. Having a clear and robust process in place is crucial to ensure the situation is managed effectively and efficiently to ensure issues are minimised wherever possible. Here at Platinum we use a super-fast payment system, meaning landlords get their rent the day after (or sometimes same day) that rent is received and cleared into our system, allowing for Bank Holidays and weekends. Our payment system also tracks all payments, keeping a consistent log of these alongside any expenses, which is great for annual tax returns. In the spirit of true transparency the system also auto emails you copies of the invoices from our contractors and chases any arrears. We are proud of the fact that our arrears record is less than 1%.