Guide to property management agents
Whether you are planning to let a room, studio flat, house or even an estate, a management agent can be a valuable resource in taking care of the whole process for you.
A managing agent can provide a range of services, from collecting rent and managing the day-to-day running of the property to addressing the legal aspects of the let on your behalf. So what can a management agent offer you and what should you look for when choosing the right agent?
When to use a management agent
Whether you choose to be an active landlord and manage the let yourself, or employ a property management company to undertake this on your behalf, the decision will largely depend on your own circumstances and experience, as well as the size and number of properties you are letting. If you have a large area of land with a number of properties to let, you may not be able to deal with the logistics of keeping them all maintained and occupied on your own.
Similarly, you may not want to deal with the financial or legal aspects of the let directly with your tenants and prefer to have it all dealt with by the professionals. Whatever your circumstances, a property manager can provide you with a wide range of services designed to make the process easy and relatively painless for you as a 'sleeping landlord'.
What services does a management agent offer?
A good management agent will provide the full range of management services for your properties. Sometimes the property owner will only hand over certain tasks to a management agency and choose to handle some aspects themselves, but if you choose, you can pass full responsibility to the agent. So what services does a typical management agent offer?
The management agent will act as the lynchpin between the owner of the property and the tenants who are renting it and are often responsible for:
- Advertising your property to potential tenants
- Sourcing suitable and reliable tenants for the property
- Accompanying potential tenants to view the property
- Obtaining references and conducting credit checks on potential tenants
- Providing you with information on the latest safety regulations
- Preparing the tenancy agreement
- Organising and managing the collection of the tenant's deposit
- Preparing the inventory and conducting a state of repair assessment on the property
- Checking in the tenant and agreeing the inventory
- Collecting the rent from the tenant
- Transferring the rental income to your account and providing you with statements of account
- Managing and arranging any necessary repairs
- Inspecting the property periodically and feeding back any comments to you
- Providing tenants with notice at the end of the tenancy
- Re-letting the property as quickly as possible and minimising any 'down-time'
- Dealing with legal aspects of the tenancy and property, including evictions, non-payment, harassment or problems with squatters
What should I look for in a management agent?
One of the most important things to look for in a management agent is their qualifications. Check to see if the management agent is a member of the Association of Rental Letting Agents. ARLA has recently introduced an award called the Technical Award in Residential Lettings and Property Management. Look out for this accreditation when selecting a property management agent. ARLA lists qualified management agents on their website, so it's a great place to start looking.
A good recommendation can go a long way. Check with friends or acquaintances that also employ a property management service to understand what their experience has been with their agent.
The majority of property letting agents will offer both letting and full management services, but talk to several and negotiate and understand their terms before deciding which to agent to instruct. Make sure you know which services you are getting and what you're paying for, either as part of a package or as extras. Ask about 'To Let' boards, newspaper adverts, websites, magazines and their own marketing ideas.
How much does a management agent cost?
The cost of instructing a management agent will depend on which services you buy into. The majority of management agents will ask for a percentage of the gross rental income, rather like a commission. Don't always be tempted by the cheapest fee, however. You want your agent to be motivated to keep the property occupied and the tenants happy at all times, so negotiate a mutually rewarding deal where you can. Fees can range from anywhere between 5 and 10 per cent of your gross rental income for a basic service, to 15 per cent or more for a full management service.
You can search for a letting agent that offers property management services right now on PrimeLocation.