The 5 Questions You Should Ask Your Letting Agent
Choosing a letting agent is an important decision for any landlord. You're a paying customer and you want to ensure you get a good service and value for money, but how do you know that the agent you're speaking to is the right fit for you? Your interview process will be a little like a tenant vetting process and should involve face to face (or Zoom) meetings as well as the paperwork side, and probably a little online stalking if we're being really honest with ourselves.
The following questions are designed to help you to ask your potential or current agent the questions that will dig into how they operate, what they stand for, and what they can offer you.
1. Who am I going to be talking to?
And I don't mean at the valuation or introduction meeting. Who will you be talking to about the everyday issues? Who will pick up the phone when you call, who will answer your emails (and when?), and if the worst should happen and your rent is not in your account on the due date, who will be dealing with this? A lot of larger high street agents outsource the property management side of the business or have a HQ located somewhere else that deals with this. If your rent is late, you'll be speaking to HQ when really what you want someone who's as concerned as you are (in fact what you really want is someone who's calling you to tell you that your rent is going to be late, but don't panic, they've spoken to the tenant already and it's all in hand, and this is the plan...).
2. What is your vetting process?
This is so important because you want your letting agent to be as obsessed with finding the right tenant for your property as you are. Finding the right tenant doesn't just mean your rent comes in on time every month, but ultimately minimizes voids and operating costs, because happy tenants stay put, and care for the property. The vetting process isn't just filtering out undesirable tenants, but matching the needs of great tenants with the best properties to meet them.
3. What hours do you work?
You don't want your letting agent to work 24/7/365 of course, you're not a taskmaster. You just want them to be available to you, whenever you need them, every time you need them. Check that they will be!
4. Has my property manager seen my property?
Sounds like a given, but actually the person you sign up with might well not be your property manager and day to day contact (see question 1). If they're not, you need to ensure that at the very least they have gotten to know your property. It could mean the difference between an expensive contractor visit, and a quick chat between the property manager and the tenant.
5. Tell me about your contractors.
Part of the reason you have a letting agent instead of dealing with everyday maintenance issues yourself, is to save the twenty phone calls to contractors arranging quotes, setting deadlines, informing tenants. Reliable contractors are the cornerstone of that service provision, but what else can they tell you about the people they work with? Are they punctual? Are they polite? Do they treat your tenants like customers, not nuisances? Can you be sure that you'd be proud to let them represent you?
If you're in the market for a letting agent who'll be thrilled to take all of these questions and more, because they're so proud of the answers they'll give you, call me on 01268 955001 or email me at email@example.com.