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How to choose the Right Property Management Company

For many landlords in the UK, renting out properties can be time-consuming and stressful. An experienced property management agency can do the work for you, but which one best fits your needs?

Published 15/07/2022

Author

Property Management Agencies: How to Choose the Right One in 2022

Highlights:

  • Questions You Should Ask
  • How Do You Find a Reliable Property Manager?
  • What to Look for in a Property Management Agency?
  • The Benefits of Rental Management

For many landlords in the UK, renting out one or more properties can be time-consuming and stressful. An experienced property management agency can do the work for you.

There are many different reasons why landlords choose to hand over management services to an external agency. They might want a professional to handle the legal and financial aspects or they simply may not have the time and need assistance.

Whatever the reason, it’s important to choose a property management agency to best suit your individual needs.

Questions You Should Ask

 

1.   What Services Are Included?

Before deciding which property management agency to use, it helps to be sure of the service you want. Property management services vary from one agency to another but usually include:

  • Property evaluations and rental rate determination
  • Advertising your property
  • Organising viewings
  • Screening and selecting tenants
  • Collecting and managing deposits
  • Carrying out credit checks
  • Writing up an inventory
  • Preparing tenancy agreements
  • Rent collection
  • Collecting and transferring rent to your account
  • Managing repairs, maintenance, safety and compliance
  • Conducting inspections
  • Managing the termination of a tenancy and re-letting the property
  • Ensuring legal compliance

Whether you choose a comprehensive management solution, or just use one or two of the services they offer, it is likely to make the landlord’s life easier.

 

2.   How Much Does a Property Management Agency Cost?

Letting agent fees can vary depending on the location of the property and the level of service required.

Property managers usually base their fees on a percentage of the monthly rent and this ranges from between 10% - 20%, depending on the service. Bear in mind that even if an agency offers an “all-inclusive service", there may still be extra payments for things outside of scope.

A good property management agency will be able to:

  • Find better quality tenants.
  • Have better access to tradespeople.
  • Allow you to spend more time focusing on your day job instead of handling the property admin and management tasks.
  • Manage tenancy agreements and provide some form of guaranteed rent scheme.

 

3.   How is Rent Collected?

It is essential to ascertain exactly how rent is handled. Make sure it’s being collected in a legitimate, reliable way and that it will be deposited into your bank account promptly.

It is also important to ask your agency what the process is if rent is not collected and if they will handle the legal documentation needed.

 

4.   What Tenancy Deposit Protection (TDP) Scheme is Used?

It is a legal requirement to put deposits into one of three government-approved schemes – Mydeposits, Deposit Protection Service, or Tenancy Deposit Scheme – within 30 days, and to give tenants a copy of the certificate.

This is one of several legal requirements that you should ensure the property management agency will fulfil.


5.   What Insurance Cover Does Your Agency Have?

Any property management agency you work with will need to have adequate public liability insurance in place.

6.   Are You a Member of the Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA)?

This is an important question to ask a property management agency. Being a member of the Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA) will give you an indication of the agency’s legitimacy. ARLA is the UK’s foremost regulatory body in the rental industry and its aim is to improve standards and protect consumers.

If you use an ARLA registered letting agent you can rest assured that your property and income will be safe and that if something untoward happens (such as damage to your property), you will be compensated.

Since ARLA also offers protection to tenants, it stands to reason those tenants would choose an ARLA-qualified agent. As a landlord, you could therefore have a larger number of tenants browsing your property.

As an ARLA Propertymark member, an agent must fulfil a number of corporate responsibilities.

Using an ARLA Propertymark agent means:

  • Your money is protected as ARLA Propertymark members take Client Money Protection (CMP) seriously. Your money will be held in a designated separate bank account and will be protected in the event of the worst happening, such as the agency going bankrupt.

  • You are working with experts in the field - Propertymark qualified agents will give you professional and solid advice.

  • ARLA Propertymark members undergo regular training on complex legislative issues and changes.

  • ARLA Propertymark members comply with a nationally recognised code of practice, so your agent should be working to the highest standards.

 

How Do You Find a Reliable Property Manager?

As there are so many property management companies in the UK, it is important to choose one that best suits your needs.

A reputable property management agency will make your life easier by; responding promptly to tenant inquiries and property issues, arranging maintenance when needed, carrying out safety checks and repairs, and finding suitable tenants.

 

Your Checklist

  • Is it easy to get a hold of the right person in the agency? Find out how long it takes them to respond to your calls.

  • How long has the agency been in business and what type of properties do they manage?

  • Are the fees they charge reasonable and in keeping with your budget?

  • What do other landlords say about the agency? Recommendations are a good place to start.

  • Online reviews are a fast way to help you choose an agency. Look for property management companies with high star ratings, positive reviews, and great feedback from not only landlords but tenants as well.

  • Another reliable way to gauge the property management agency’s value is to speak to landlords who have dealt with the agency and hear their experiences before signing up.

 

Other Considerations

 

Cost

You need to take your expected rental income into account and decide on a fee you can realistically afford. Carefully weigh up the cost (and convenience) of handling the management yourself versus paying for professional help.

You need to know the exact structure of the cost percentage or sum that will come off on a monthly basis.

Compare the prices of at least four different companies before you make a final decision.

Time

How much of your time is being taken up by your rental property?

If you work part-time and prefer a hands-on approach, it may suit you to take care of your own rental property.

If you work full-time you may find that you struggle to balance the upkeep of your property with work commitments. Knowing the amount of time you can afford to spend on your property will help you to decide the level of service you need.

Regardless of the time you have available it may make sense to use a property management agency to handle some elements while you handle others.

Control

The degree of control you wish to have over the management of your property is another factor to consider.

You may want to be involved in important decisions, such as terms of occupancy, or you may prefer a more hands-off approach.

For lease-held properties it is important to compare responsibility under your lease with the tenancy agreement.

Reputation

Comparing fees and services is essential, but it’s also important to find out how other landlords have found their services. Reading reviews on Google will show how other landlords and tenants rate their experience.

Speak to friends, family, colleagues and local estate agents about property management companies in the area.

 

What to Look for in a Property Management Agency?

An excellent property management agency should have:

  • Experience in dealing with your type of property
  • A thorough tenant screening process
  • A solid reputation
  • The ability to deal with issues efficiently and promptly
  • Good online recommendations by landlords and tenants

A local agency may be preferred as they can respond quickly and have local knowledge.

 

Due Diligence and Active Research

You can start by looking at the agency’s website to learn more about the properties they manage and you could visit some of these properties to see if they are well kept.

Find out how long, on average, it takes for them to fill vacant properties. You are also within your rights to ask how they fill the vacancies.

Take note of how the agency advertises. The more sites they use to place their adverts, the better your chances are of finding the right tenant.

An agency with years of experience will know all about the laws that apply to tenants and landlords and they will know exactly how to deal with local contractors to get the best deals for maintenance and repairs.

Check what systems are being used in order to properly manage the property. Do they use an App or a service you can easily access that promotes tenant engagement?

Ask if they belong to professional trade associations (such as ARLA) because this is not only a good indicator of their high standards, but it will offer you protection if there are any disputes or issues between yourself and the property management agency.

 

Inspections

Routine inspections are a regular part of managing rental properties and landlords have the right to do so under the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985.

Inspections are conducted several times per year or when a tenant moves out. These checks ascertain whether there are any maintenance issues and if the tenants comply with the lease agreement’s terms.

Be clear about the agency’s inspection schedules and policies to ensure that they match your expectations.

 

Excellent Communication

A good property manager keeps the lines of communication open at all times and offers tenants and landlords a number of communication avenues including face-to-face, email, phone calls, an app and even newsletters.

Communication is linked to professionalism. A good property manager is empathic but firm and strives to treat everyone with respect.

Check if your property management agency is using an app to communicate effectively to tenants and landlords. An online platform makes the channel of communication easier and more effective.

 

The Benefits of Rental Management

  • Property management companies will conduct thorough applicant checks. They have extensive experience in the field and know exactly what to look for.
  • Professional companies know the latest rules and regulations and will ensure that you’re complying with them. You’ll receive advice on what to do when uncertain situations arise.

  • An agency will handle rent collection on your behalf and be better trained to deal with late or missed payments.

  • One of the top reasons to hire a rental management agency is having the assurance of legal compliance. There are more than 150 laws in the property sector which can be overwhelming for landlords. Having the support of experts who have dealt with the laws for years is hugely beneficial.

Having the day-to-day administrative issues dealt with by a property manager, such as conducting reference checks, is a benefit to the landlord.

By using EVO’s services and apps, a large part of the post-tenancy work is dealt with. The EVO system promotes effective communication and engagement between tenants and landlords to increase harmony.

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