1. What service do you need?
You’ve usually got three main options to choose from here, a fully managed service, a let-only service or a tenant-find service.
A tenant-find service does what it says on the tin – with the agent finding you a suitable tenant and drawing up a contract.
If you choose a lettings only service, the agent will find and vet a suitable tenant on your behalf, with the added bonus of dealing with the deposit and first month’s rent for you too.
With a managed service, the agent acts on your behalf throughout the tenancy. This includes the day-to-day running of the property, with jobs such as inspections and maintenance looked after for you.
As well as this, you’re also paying for their knowledge of the sector and all the regulations and red-tape you’ll likely face along the way.
What your choice will ultimately boil down to is how much spare time you have, how many properties you own and how far away you live, how much you’re willing to spend and your depth of knowledge of the industry.
2. How well will they market your property?
At the very least, a good agent should advertise your property across large online portals such as Rightmove and PrimeLocation, as well as in the local press.
Ask to see some examples of property marketing and make sure they’re included as part of your package and not an expensive extra.
At the beginning, you may be able to sign up with multiple agents, as many don’t charge a fee until the property is occupied. This way, you can boost your marketing power for less – meaning a better chance of finding a great tenant.
3. Do they offer any extras?
There are plenty of added services that could be included in a package – such as inventory checks and tenancy agreements – that you may be charged extra for. While this is usually the case anyway, it’s a good idea to ask about all extra charges – so you know what you’re paying for and when. You may even find that you get things thrown in for free!
Compare each agent on the value of their proposition. This isn’t about finding the cheapest agent, rather the one who’ll go that little bit further for you.
4. What schemes do they belong to?
Since 1st October 2014, it’s been a legal requirement for all letting agents in England to be a member of 1 of 3 Government-approved redress schemes.
There are several schemes* in the sector operated by ARLA/NAEA, the Law Society, NALS and RICS to which agents voluntarily belong. The scope of these schemes varies and you should contact your agent for full details of the scheme of which they are a part.
*The firms/members of CMP Schemes recognised by SAFEagent have common minimum standards. The schemes are provided by recognised industry bodies or organisations operating in the private rented sector to provide accreditation and/ or regulation. They are completely independent from the letting agent and they do not act on behalf of, or owe a duty of care to the participating firm