Property Management and Letting Agents
You may decide to find a tenant and manage the property yourself, saving the expense of a letting agent. This is fine if you have the knowledge and experience needed but most people new to the business of being a landlord choose to use an agent either to find a tenant, manage the rental agreement or both. A good agent should be able to find you a reliable tenant who will pay a reasonable level of rent and keep the property in good condition. That is the aim, how do you find an agent to achieve it?
When searching for an agent a good starting point is personal recommendation. Do you know any landlords locally who can recommend someone? As well as this it is always a good idea to check whether the agent you are thinking of using is a member of a professional body such as the Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA for short), The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), or the National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA). It is worth taking a little time to visit the website of the professional body concerned so you can see what added benefits apply to using one of their members. For example things like professional indemnity insurance, protection of client money and codes of practice. It probably makes sense to use an agent who can demonstrate a track record of letting similar properties to yours.
You need to be clear about the agent's charges for finding you a tenant and/or managing the relationship with the tenant and collecting the rent. The cheapest option will be to instruct the agent to find a tenant and for you to manage the relationship with the tenant once he or she has moved in. In this case the agent will probably be finding a tenant, obtaining references and drawing up the inventory and tenancy agreement. For a higher charge the agent will provide a full management service the charges including items like credit checks, collecting the rent, inspecting the property regularly and arranging repairs and maintenance.
The agent will require you to sign a written agreement and you need to be clear about the obligations this imposes on both you and the agent. If the agent does not want you to have a written agreement that is a definite warning sign!
If you use an agent, or not, you should always insure your property. If you do use an agent, it is likely that you will still need to arrange your own appropiate landlords insurance cover.
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