Property Management Agencies: How to Choose the Right One in 2022
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.
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:
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.
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:
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.
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.
Any property management agency you work with will need to have adequate public liability insurance in place.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
An excellent property management agency should have:
A local agency may be preferred as they can respond quickly and have local knowledge.
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.
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.
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.
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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