Letting agent services
Letting agents offer varying levels of service, so depending on how much you want to be involved with the property's management, there will be a service level right for you. By law, they must display their service level fees in branch and on their website, so compare costs across a number of agencies. Although every agent is different, there are standard services most will use as outlined below.
Usually a one-off cost, charged at around a month’s rent.
This is a basic service level where the letting agent will find you a suitable tenant. This usually entails taking professional photos, designing floorplans and advertising your property where it will gain the most traction. They may also arrange and attend viewings, conduct references and Right-to-Rent checks, set up the tenancy agreement and create an inventory. With a tenant found and a move-in date established the rest is up to you.
Normally a percentage of the monthly rent, anywhere from around five per cent.
In some instances, rent collection can form part of the tenant find service. The letting agent will collect and handle the legal requirements over protecting the deposit and collect the rent from the tenant. They will also chase up any rent arrears, serve notices and be on hand to advise you should tenants continue not to pay rent. Some agents will even offer insurance that protects your income in the case of rent arrears.
A bigger percentage of the monthly rent at around 15–20 per cent.
The letting agent takes full control of managing all aspects of letting your property, including the services offered under tenant find and rent collection. They will correspond with the tenant throughout the tenancy, organising maintenance, inspections, check-in, check-out and any deposit disputes.
Which letting agent service should I use?
The service you use may depend entirely on how many properties you let, their location and how hands-on you are as a landlord. If you only let one or two properties and can manage the property yourself, you may just need help finding tenants.
If you prefer not to be hassled chasing rent payments, rent collection is an option you might look at. A fully managed service is ideal when the property is far away from where you live or you let a number of properties.
Ask a letting agent the following questions
Q. What kind of tenants would you rent my property to?
A good agent will find the right tenant for your property; you won’t want students living in a family home or vice versa. Ask what checks they will carry out to ensure tenants are able to pay rent and respect the property.
Q. How long does it take for you to find a tenant?
Your aim will be to keep your property filled at all times to minimise rental voids; however, their answer should be reasonable and realistic. Too long and you might question their effectiveness, too short and they could be rushing in an unsuitable tenant
Q. What documentation do you provide tenants with at the start of the tenancy?
Remember you are ultimately responsible for the property and will be under the spotlight if the agent fails to issue the necessary legal documents. A good agent may also offer guidance above and beyond what the Government stipulates too.
Q. What's your process when a tenant falls into rent arrears and for regaining possession of the property?
A good agent will have plans in place to ensure you get the money owed to you. They will have extensive knowledge of repossession and be able to serve the correct legal paperwork to regain your property if the need arises.
There may come a time when eviction is the only and final option so we have compiled this list of what, and what not to do. Don't forget the rules for eviction vary depending on where you are in the UK.
Q. Do you carry out regular safety checks and inspections?
With around 145 pieces of legislation governing landlords, a good agent will be fully aware and up to date with all the responsibilities that befall you. You should ask what they check for peace of mind and to ensure your property is compliant. Communication is key and they should keep you informed of your property’s condition whenever you require it.
To help you get to grips with what’s expected, we have outlined the main safety concerns you need to be aware of and the legal obligations you must adhere to.
Q. What independent redress and Client Money Protection scheme do you belong to?
It is a legal requirement for a letting agent to belong to a Government-approved independent redress scheme and have Client Money Protection (CMP). If an agent can’t provide you with this information this should raise an immediate red flag. By using an ARLA Propertymark Protected letting agent you can be assured your agent is adhering to all their legal obligations.
Need more advice? find your local ARLA Propertymark Protected expert
Propertymark members are qualified and undertake regular training to ensure they are up to date with the latest legislation and best practice. They abide by a nationally recognised Code of Practice and are provided with a range of resources to help them offer a better service to you.