It is important to look for a letting agent from a reputable organisation. The key to success is to find one who will market your property professionally.
Finding a reputable and reliable letting agent
It is always advisable to choose a letting agent who is a member of a professional organisation, such as the Association of Residential Letting Agents, the National Association of Estate Agents or the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors. All are bound by a code of practice. You can search for a letting agent right now on PrimeLocation.
Personal recommendation is a good way to find a suitable letting agency. Ask for advice from someone you know who has experience of dealing with local agents.
What to expect from your letting agent and what they expect of you
The extent of the services may vary from agent to agent and much will depend on what your own requirements are. For example, do you just want an agent to find you a tenant, or do you want an agent to manage the whole term of the rental agreement from start to finish?
The majority of letting agencies will offer both letting and full management services, but talk to several and negotiate and understand their terms before deciding which agent or agents 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, online advertising on their website and on portals like PrimeLocation, magazines and their own marketing ideas.
Some agents specialise exclusively in lettings, while others are linked to an established estate agency. Consider whether the agent has the right local or national branch network to market your property effectively.
As most letting agents operate on a 'no let, no fee' basis, appoint more than one agent to increase the chance of letting your property (some agents charge a fee to have a property included on their list). It is important to remember that agents offering low charges are not necessarily the best agents to use. Opt for those who provide a comprehensive service and can demonstrate success in the local market. Choose a letting agent which lets properties similar to yours, and which you think would attract the right kind of tenant with suitable references and achieve the highest possible rental price.
Provide your letting agent with as much information as possible about the type of tenant you want. Stipulate whether you want a young professional or married couple, a personal or a corporate let, and whether you are looking for a long term tenant. Landlords benefit by having long term tenants as it excludes voids (periods when the property is empty).
Fees are normally a percentage of the rental income over the letting term, usually starting from 10 per cent of the rental price achieved. This covers the cost of marketing a property, finding and vetting a suitable tenant, obtaining references and preparing a tenancy agreement and inventory. For a full management service, fees can be expected to start from 15 per cent of the rental price. Here the agent will organise credit checks, collect the rent monies, pay bills, regularly inspect the property and oversee any necessary maintenance work. Alternatively, you can opt for a property management agent, which can be particularly useful if you are using several letting agents, and letting on a short term basis. Other services can be negotiated with the letting or property management agent.