Certain sections of the press have devoted large amounts of space to criticizing lettings agents for the fees they charge. While it’s true that these fees can look expensive, all costs have to be looked at in context and the fact is that a good lettings agent can go a long way to making life easier for landlords and, by extension, for tenants. Here are three examples of how they can help.
Keeping landlords on the right side of the law
At this point in time, possibly the biggest legal challenge to landlords is the “Right to Rent” act, which, arguably rather ironically, is currently being challenged through the courts. While it’s anybody’s guess where this will end up, a very likely outcome is that the government and concerned third parties go back and forward through the courts until eventually the legislation reaches a point which is legally acceptable, even if it is still disliked by those actually involved in residential lettings (and the public at large).
It seems rather doubtful that the legislation would actually be cancelled (at least not under the current government). Setting this aside, there are still a number of legal issues facing landlords and not only can the legal landscape change over the course of time, it can differ from one region to another as local authorities impose their own rules and there are signs that some of them at least, are using their rule-making powers as a way to trap landlords for fines levied on the basis of administrative errors rather than because they have done anything which negatively impacts tenants (or anyone else).
Vetting tenants thoroughly
Effective tenant vetting is already hugely important and likely to become even more so in future if the government proceeds to ban “no faults” evictions as seems very likely. Vetting tenants involves a combination of fact-checking and judgement. Both are important.
For example, some tenants may tick every box on paper and yet raise concerns when an experienced lettings agent has a direct conversation with them. By contrast, some tenants may struggle to demonstrate their suitability on paper, for example, if they do not have any credit history, but when an experienced lettings agent actually speaks to them, it’s obvious that they are exactly the sort of tenants any landlord would wish to have.
It’s also worth noting that tenant vetting needs to be undertaken in a way which is demonstrably compliant with the law, particularly the Equality Act, otherwise a landlord could find themselves on the receiving end of a legal complaint from someone who is frustrated at having been turned down for a tenancy.
Managing tenants appropriately
Attracting good tenants is only part of the story, once they are in place, they need to be managed and the extent to which they need active management often depends on your market. For example, young adults living away from home for the first time (e.g. students) may need some firm but tactful guidance on what is expected of them and what they can expect in return.
Even more experienced tenants may need some oversight and will certainly need some level of customer service if they are to stay happy and stay in the property for the maximum length of time.