1. Are you a specialist lettings agency?
We always recommend using a specialist letting agency for the management of your properties. Property management requires a very distinct skill set & experience but is often seen by Estate Agents as just a nice side line to generate recurring income.
2. Are you a member of an accreditation scheme such as ARLA, RICS, NALS, NAEA?
Any professionally run letting agency will be a member of one of the above schemes, if they aren’t give them a miss!
3. Do you have recognised client money protection scheme in place? This can often be signposted by the SAFEagent logo.
It’s absolutely essential to use an agency that is a member of the SAFE agent scheme, this means any rents and deposits collected on your behalf are protected in the event the agent goes bust.
4. Do you advertise on all the main online portals especially Rightmove and Zoopla?
Rightmove and Zoopla are the biggest online portals and account for over 98% of all tenant enquiries in the UK, if your agent isn’t advertising on both of these portals they are likely to experience higher than average voids on properties under their management and potentially achieve lower rents.
5. Can I have a list of all your charges and commissions?
Unfortunately many agents still build additional hidden fees into things like inventories, gas safety certs, EPC’s and maintenance work, so whilst the advertised fees may seem competitive you may end up paying significantly more via these uplifts.
6. What criteria do you use to reference your tenants?
It is absolutely key to find out what criteria an agent uses to reference prospective tenants, as if your agent gets it wrong and puts and unsuitable tenant in resulting in your property getting trashed or the tenant failing to pay the rent its you the landlord that will be picking up the bill.
Unfortunately many agencies appear to be watering down the criteria required for a tenant to pass referencing as they are heavily targeted on new lets and this helps increase the figures.
For more information on what criteria should be used to reference a tenant call Easthams & Co on 01772 654624
7. On receipt of the rent from the tenant, how soon do you pay it across to the landlord?
Some agencies can take up to 30 days to transfer rental payments to landlords!, ensure whichever agent you use guarantees funds will be transferred within a maximum of 3 working days
8. Which deposit protection scheme do you use?
Make sure that your letting agent is registered with one of the deposit protection schemes as we read daily of agencies disappearing with thousands of pounds of tenants deposits and the landlords being made to re pay them in cases where they haven’t been properly registered.
9. Do you have systems in place to track rental payments, repairs, compliance obligations etc?
There are so many elements to managing a property well that without a specialist lettings software package in place things can get lost or missed. Ideally your agent will use a system like Jupix that allows you to log in remotely to view things like your account sin real time, maintenance records, viewing feedback and inspection reports etc
10. What is your staff to property ratio?
It is crucial that any letting agency you appoint has sufficient staff number to look after the portfolio under their management effectively. We have heard of agencies where the ratio is as much as 1 to 150!! Ideally we recommend a maximum ratio of 1 to 80 for truly effective management but up to 1:100 is usually ok. Easthams & Co operate at 1 member of staff to every 60 properties under management
11. Which Ombudsman Scheme are you a member of?
Agents must be a member of an Ombudsman Scheme so you have recourse if there are any issues if they aren’t a member stay away!!!
12. Do you undertake a check-in and check-out inventory, and also mid-term property inspections?
One of the key parts of successful property management are the check in and check out reports coupled with regular periodic inspections. The inventory should always be produced by a professional inventory clerk as this is all you have to rely on when comparing the condition of the property before and after the tenancy. Periodic inspections should be carried out ideally 3 times in the first year of a tenancy in months 2, 6 &12 and then twice a year for any subsequent years. However if issues arise on an inspection the next one should be brought forward to enable agents to check if the issues have been resolved before they get any worse.
If you’ve got more questions or want more information on Easthams & Co’s award-winning Preston & Fylde Coast landlord services, call us today on 01772 654624 or 01253 708834 or enquire online