As the credit crunch worsens and potential house buyers are increasingly marginalised by market forces and restrictions on lending it is understandable that so many people are now choosing to rent. This means that for those with the capital placing property up for rent can be a profitable and rewarding process. Some may wish to let their property purely because they are going travelling while others may have the notion of becoming a property tycoon. Either way, it is important to hire letting agents when placing property up for rent, they can make the process far simpler and easier by taking much of the leg work out of letting properties. Letting agents are trained and experienced in the process of placing property up for rent and hence are a valuable resource for the would be landlord. But how do you choose agents, what should the decision making process involve?
As with many things in life the best way to find letting agents is to follow a personal recommendation. This should help in finding a good service and the best price. If it is not possible to get a personal recommendation there are other ways to find letting agents; naturally the internet should be utilised as there are so many consumer websites out there that it can make the head spin. Do not purely use forums and unofficial websites however, there are certain bodies that are worth using that should be able to list the letting agents in your area. An example of one of these bodies would be the Association of Residential Letting Agents or ARLA for short. To be a member of ARLA the agent must have been operating for at least two years, long enough to build suitable knowledge and experience in the industry.
While not always the case ARLA members should be able to provide customers with high levels of service with a competitive pricing structure. They should also have the knowledge of all current legislation which means less reading for the landlord and a far simpler process. Additionally ARLA members should also have professional indemnity insurance meaning the landlord is better protected from claims and compensation. The landlord however will have to pay for these services; in most cases the fees are bolted onto the rent meaning that in effect the landlord receives less income than if they were the let the property privately. When choosing an agency it is important to remember that while the smaller companies will often have better rates, larger agencies will be able to provide an all encompassing service and will have more effective property marketing strategies.
The landlord will have to sign an agreement with the agency in order for them to carry out the letting process. This agreement normally covers issues such as the right of the agent to let the property and care for the tenants. As with any formal agreement it is vital to read the contract carefully, taking notice of any small print and clauses that may cause contention. The ultimate objective of this is to understand fully what tasks the agents will perform on the landlord's behalf. Contracts can be troublesome however so if there are any clauses that are misunderstood, utilising the services of a legal professional can be an advisable course of action, although this may require a fee. In the majority of cases the option to remove any contentious clauses should be a possibility and if it is not, finding another agency is worth the effort of starting all over again.
It is hoped that this brief introduction to the world of letting will help those first time landlords to find a great agency service. Ultimately the agents are there to manage the property of the landlord, taking the stress and hassle away; with the right agency a simple yet effective rental structure should be created and landlords should be able to rake in the profits.
Property expert Thomas Pretty looks at the services provided by letting agents and how to select the best agency.