You should ask three agents to attend, having firstly established who is UKALA or ARLA members and taken on board any recommendations and reviews that you have inspected. During the arranged property consultation, see how professional and detailed they are. A good agent will be comprehensive and make you feel at ease about the process of letting. Setting the rental value is normally pretty straight forward and between the three valuations you should be able to pin point the correct value.
All good local agents will have solid marketing campaigns, so I will not go into detail on this subject. As a minimum your property should be listed via OnTheMarket.com and Zoopla. The agent will also erect a ‘To Let’ board and carry out accompanied viewings.
All good agents will use up to date ‘Assured Shorthold Tenancies’ and you should be clear with them on any conditions you wish to apply both in the marketing material and in any contract. For example, No Pets, No DSS or a minimum 12 month contract.
The referencing process I have detailed above and this should really be established before you book them in for the valuation for the reasons I have explained.
For landlords looking for a managed service you should establish how they go about the periodic inspections on your property. These are normally carried out every 12 weeks and should be fed back to you via a notification or a report. I know from being in the industry that some of the poor agents claim to do these inspections and just do not do them. You will need confirmation that a notification is sent and a report provided if requested.
Ask what type of inventories and condition reports are used. Top agents should have both a written inventory and a report that includes dated pictures. This will best safeguard you against a dispute with the tenant(s) over the bond at the end of the tenancy.
You must ask the agent about fees of course. Thankfully all good letting agents publish a breakdown of their fees via their website, so you can easily inspect the main fees and any additional costs. For a ‘Finders Fee’ arrangement you will normally pay a minimum fee of £299 to £450 or two weeks rent, whichever the greater. For a ‘Fully Managed’ Service you will pay between 10% and 15%. All fees will be plus VAT. I don’t know any good agent that charges below 10% management fees.
Beyond this initial meeting, you could call into the offices to see how it presents and to see if you are greeted and dealt with professionally. Be honest and just say you are checking them out! You should ask what the management structure is and you can do this at the valuation point. Do they manage from a central office away from the area (This I am not too keen on), do they have separate negotiators, admin and maintenance staff (With this structure you will be dealing with multiple people) or do they appoint you with your own property manager who will be your sole point of contact.
Thank you for everything. The service, professionalism and effort has been above what would be expected. Thank you. Richard & Laura