Questions to ask your prospective letting agent

Eviction letter received

Whether you’re a recent landlord or looking for new letting agents, you need to do your research before appointing them. What types of details should you be looking for and what are the vital questions you need to ask a prospective agent?

What Marketing Do They Do?

There’s no point having a great rental property if nobody knows about it. It’s important that you speak with an agent about how they’ll market the house and any fees associated with this.

Most letting agents will have their own website which they’ll upload your details to. However, the first port of call for many potential renters is the property portfolio sites, such as Rightmove, Zoopla and Findaproperty. Check to see which ones they subscribe to, as the more places your advert is seen, the quicker it should let.

Within smaller towns, the weekly newspaper property guide is a vital piece of marketing. Speak with the agent about whether or not they advertise in this and how often and how much space they take?

Check the Contract

Don’t be tempted to just agree a verbal contract with the letting agent. This could cause potential problems if issues arise in the future and nothing was written down and signed.

The contract should clearly state how much you should pay in fees and where responsibilities lie. Make sure that you check all the details, especially regarding renewal fees.

Is the Tenant’s Deposit Protected?

It’s now vital that tenants’ deposits are insured by one of the tenancy deposit schemes, but this isn’t a guarantee if the agent goes out of business. Check if the agent is a member of the Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA). This means that your money will be covered by their Client Money Protection Scheme and you won’t be left out of pocket.

Who is Responsible for Maintenance?

You may just have a contract with the agent to find a tenant. However, if they’re contracted on a fully managed basis, you need to verify what’s included and how it works. They should get authorisation before any major work is contracted but may be able to agree work below a set amount.

Ask them if they have an in-house team to carry out maintenance work or a list of contractors that they regularly work with. This will give you an indication of the quality standards they work to and if they are better than simply choosing some businesses from the phone book.

How are Tenants Checked?

Before accepting tenants you need to ensure that they can afford the monthly rent, as you don’t want to be left trying to evict them for non-payment. You need to ask the agent how thorough their checks are, exactly what issues these will raise and how quick the process is.

Once you’ve chosen your letting agent, stay in regular contact with them and ask for updates on tenant searches etc. Working with them is the best way to quickly and efficiently let your property.

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