Considering Changing Letting Agent?
Late payment of rent; rent arrears; lack of communication; deterioration of the property; uncommitted staff; long void periods between tenancies: these are just some of the reasons a landlord may consider moving the management of their property to a different letting agent.
Many landlords tend to stay with their letting agent for years, tenancy after tenancy, even if they are not delivering on service. For some, the perceived hassle of changing agent encourages them to stay – and others don’t even realise that changing letting agent is a possibility – meaning that some agents can become complacent once a tenancy is underway, without fear of losing their client. The reality however is that changing agent can be a straightforward and hassle free experience for both landlords and their tenants. Here, we look at four of the most common misconceptions holding landlords back from switching letting agent.
1. I signed an agreement with my letting agent so I have to stay.
It is true that (in most cases) your agreement with your letting agent will tie you in for an initial fixed term. This is to avoid landlords leaving immediately after the agent has invested considerable time and effort in finding, referencing and moving in a new tenant.
The initial term can vary from agent to agent, but it is usually 6 to 12 months. The best place to start is to check the agreement with your agent. This should specify the fixed term period and also the notice that you must give to terminate the contract. If you are outwith your initial fixed term you can very probably end the contract by giving notice of your wish to do so. The agreement you signed with your agent should specify how much notice is required. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to wait until the end of a tenancy to end the contract with your agent.
2. I have tenants in the property and don’t want to lose them, so I will have to wait until the end of their tenancy
Many landlords believe that they have to wait until the end of a tenancy to switch letting agent, however, this is not the case. The Tenancy Agreement is a contract between the landlord and the tenant, with the agent working on behalf of the landlord, so changing agent does not affect the legal rights or obligations of either party.
It is actually a much more straightforward process to change agent during an ongoing tenancy as it means that the new agent can smoothly take the property on board without the added task of advertising and finding a tenant. If a letting agent has not been delivering on service, the tenant may well be pleased to learn that the management arrangement is changing, meaning that they may be more likely to stay in the property for longer than they would have with the previous agent.
3. I don’t want the hassle of switching agent
Changing letting agent – whether at the end of or during a tenancy – really is a straightforward process for landlords. Once a landlord has given their agent written notice that they would like to leave, the new agent will (in the majority of cases) handle all aspects of the switch on behalf of their new client. Simply Let are experienced in taking over management from other letting agents and we make the process as straightforward as possible for our clients. We will:
• Contact the tenant
When we have your tenant’s contact details we will liaise with the tenant directly regarding the changeover, letting them know who we are and when we will be taking over management of the property and arranging to vist them so that they can put a face to our name. We will introduce your tenant to our online fault reporting system and give them guidance in what to do in the event of an out-of-hours emergency. We will ensure also that your tenant has the correct bank details to make rent payments.
• Obtain tenancy documents from former letting agent -
including the Tenancy Agreement and associated documentation, deposit details, and check-in inventory.
• Obtain safety certifications -
including electrical and gas safety certificates. We will also check that your property is fully compliant with current safety legislation, as failure to comply would put you personally in breach of the law (and our role is to keep you out of trouble)
• Collect keys
We will collect all sets of keys held by the previous agent.
• Arrange a property inspection
Our initial inspections are scheduled in the first 4 weeks from taking on the property. Inspections are then 4 -6 monthly, unless we identify an issue that requires more frequent inspection.
4. All letting agents are the same - it isn’t worth the hassle of changing
While most letting agents appear to offer similar lettings and property management services, the way in which these services are carried out can be very different, leading to widely varying experiences for landlords and tenants. The main variables between letting agents, ones which can lead to the success or breakdown of the landlord-agent relationship, include:
Check that the agent is qualified to manage your property. Our director, John Gell, is a charetered surveyor and Simply Let is Regulated by RICS, which gives clients the benefit of the RICS Client Money Protection Scheme. All Simply Let staff hold the ARLA Propertymark Technical Award in Scottish Residential Letting and Property Management. With the new tenancy regime meaning landlords can no longer end a tenancy simply because they want to, and with tenants having considerably enhanced security of tenure, it's more important than ever to choose a letting agent who really knows what they're doing.
The recently introduced Letting Agent Code of Practice will enforce regulation for all letting agents. But Simply Let chose to be regulated from its inception back in 2004. Regulated letting agents must adhere to a strict code of practice, encouraging professionalism within the industry. Simply Let is already highly regulated by ARLA and RICS. Read more about the Code of Practice and Simply Let’s regulation here.
• Client Money Protection
Many letting agents have no means of properly safeguarding their clients’ money. Simply Let clients benefit from the RICS Client Money Protection Scheme. Discover more about the importance of client money protection here.
• Rigorous approach to rent collection
Through careful tenant selection and thorough vetting of tenancy applicants, Simply Let has never lost a landlord a penny in rent in the thirteen years we’ve been in business.
Lack of communication is one of the most common complaints we hear from landlords who are unhappy with their agent. At Simply Let we pro-actively communicate any issues to our clients as they arise and, with a small but dedicated team at Simply Let, our landlord clients have a known individual dealing with their property.
Transparency is vital as landlords are entrusting their letting agent with the management of their most valuable assets - possibly their pension fund. At Simply Let we are open and honest in our dealings with our landlord clients and are bound by the RICS code of ethics to put our clients’ best interests ahead of the interests of our business.
Do you want the local branch of a national firm or a local independent agent? Simply Let is a family business owned by its directors John and Kathleen Gell - a husband and wife team - and managed by them personally with the assistance of Marsaili and Iona. We have a higher than average staff to property ratio and this allows us to pay attention to detail - a critical part of successful property management. Without satisfied clients, the business would fail. The fact that our client base is growing steadily speaks for itself.
We would love to hear from you if you are thinking about switching from your current letting agent. Contact us now to arrange a free, no obligation chat. We work with landlords who want to provide good quality statutorily compliant properties for responsible tenants.