Buy to let investment is on the rise, with almost 70,000 buy-to-let companies emerging in 2021 alone, and 583,000 buy to let residences across the country. It’s more evident than ever that property is creating exceptional yields for landlords this quarter, hence this swift upsurge in buy-to-let popularity. However, whether you’re an accidental landlord or the owner of a vast portfolio, your investment is futile if your property is sat dormant on the lettings market, accumulating no interest and generating no profit. That’s why in this piece, Centrick will be guiding you through the way to get the most out of your investment: by choosing the best letting agent.
Choosing a seasoned lettings agent with influence in your local area will amplify your chances of finding a tenant quickly, thereby avoiding the dreaded void period. Not only will local agents have experience and knowledge regarding your neighbourhood, but they will be able to utilise this to advertise your property to show its maximum potential. This involves being able to talk about the benefits of living in your neighbourhood, what opportunities there are for your tenant’s career and family, and what makes the community a wonderful place to live in. What’s more, viewings will be convenient for your agent if their branch is located within close proximity to your property, which can also give peace of mind to your prospective tenants that in the event of a maintenance issue, their managing agency is nearby to handle things swiftly.
Many landlords choose to delegate most of their involvement in their properties to their managing agent, leaving the hands-on aspects of their investment to a company such as Centrick – this is a good option for those with large portfolios, or accidental landlords with little to no experience with lettings management. Alternatively, landlords with smaller portfolios or an abundance of property management knowledge will choose not to delegate to their managing agency, but use a lettings agent to source a viable tenant and reference them properly. A good lettings agent will offer a variety of management packages to suit your strategy and budget.
This is the bit that nobody likes but is perhaps the most necessary aspect of letting a property – the paperwork. It is well worth quizzing any potential lettings agencies about the paperwork they’ll be dealing with on your behalf, including employment references, landlord references, right to rent checks, and identity checks for any prospective residents of your property. Your agent should also be able to draw up a standard tenancy agreement for you and your tenants to sign. To make this step as simple as possible for you, we recommend coming to your chosen agency prepared: have your EPC and EICR at hand or ready to order, as well as any legionella risk assessments or gas safety certificates if necessary, and have funds set aside for any additional checks that may need to be carried out.
If your property is sitting dormant on the market and gathering no interest, this can be of serious financial detriment. Therefore, it is vital that your agent is proactive in searching for tenants to live at your property. One way to determine whether your agency is proactive in advertising your property to potential tenants is to look on the most popular property portals – Rightmove and Zoopla – to see if they are promoting their listings. Alternatively, ask about their existing contacts: most agencies will already know potential tenants who have recently moved out of a property or lost out in the lettings process to another applicant, and can contact these individuals before your property even launches on portals.
For the benefit of both landlords and tenants, it is vital that tenancy deposit money is secured via a deposit protection scheme. Although fraud is an exceptionally rare occurrence, if fraudulent activity occurs, both landlords and tenants can be reimbursed for any losses if a Client Money Protection Scheme has been used to look after funds. Ask your agency if they use any such scheme.
Thinking of choosing a full management package? It’s worth talking to your property manager about the Tenancy Deposit Scheme, which holds a maximum of five weeks rent from your tenant and can be utilised to fix any damages that occur during the length of their tenancy. Your letting agent will retain these funds on your behalf, with the money acting as a form of safeguard against potential indemnities. As with the Client Money Protection Scheme, ensure that you’re asking your managing agent about the TDS.
Your lettings agent should be aware of any pieces of legislation that require verification to ensure the safety of your tenant. For example, smoke alarms should be placed on each floor of your property, and carbon monoxide detectors are compulsory in any rooms with open fuel burning facilities. Escape routes should be readily available and signposted in the event of a fire and, if you’re listing an HMO, it’s crucial that fire extinguishers are readily available. These rules differ based on the layout of your property and will require assessment before being let out – please speak to your agent for clarification.
During the time your property is being occupied by your tenants, it’s important that your property is being routinely inspected to ensure it is in good condition. Your letting agency should be arranging regular inspections to keep an eye on the status of the property and have a list of reputable tradespeople to call upon should anything go awry and repairs are required. Ask for their top recommendations for plumbers, gas engineers and general maintenance repairs, and do your research on these companies and individuals.
On the topic of maintenance, it’s worth requesting further details regarding a ‘maintenance float’: in short, this is a sum of money set aside by landlords for minor repairs to the property and can usually be dipped into without the explicit permission of the property owner. Your letting agent will be able to tailor this float to your needs in terms of cost and which repairs it can cover.
The last step is to state how you wish to receive your rent: be sure to consider payment frequency, the account you wish to be paid into, and any monies that need to be paid to the agency. Most agencies will take a monthly management fee, or an upfront tenant-find fee if you wish to handle your own management.
Centrick is proud to be able to offer our clients all the above services through our range of management packages – you’re sure to find one to suit your needs. For more information on what Centrick can offer you, watch our quick guide to lettings here or contact us using the form below: one of our expert Lettings Team would be delighted to help!
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