If you’re a new or inexperienced landlord, or you simply don’t have the time to manage your property, then it may be time to consider hiring a lettings agent to manage the property for you.
But how can you ensure you’ve found the right one for you? Our handy tips will help you to pick the best lettings agent in Bristol.
● Ask for recommendations
If you have family or friends who rent out their properties nearby, or you know any other landlords in the area then ask them who they use, and whether they would recommend them.
Word of mouth is often the most effective form of marketing, and there may even be a referral bonus for both parties.
● Check they are regulated
This is absolutely essential if you’re going to pick the right lettings agent for your property. As with most industries there are a few cowboys out there looking to make a quick bit of cash, with minimal experience in their field.
As a minimum you’ll want to choose a lettings agent that’s registered with the Property Ombudsman, but it’s a good idea to find one that’s a member of the National Approved Letting Scheme (NALS), or the Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA).
● Compare fees
You don’t have to pick the first lettings agent you find, so contact a few agents and find out their fee structures.
Remember, it’s not always a good idea to just go with the cheapest to save money. Check with each of the agents what’s covered in their fees, as you might not be comparing like for like and could find yourself getting stung with hidden charges. It’s important you feel comfortable with your chosen lettings agent too and are happy with their level of knowledge, service and expertise.
● Check for reviews
Websites such as All Agents have reviews from both landlords and tenants, so you can get a good idea of the merits of each agent from both sides.
Just because other landlords might be happy with the service, it doesn’t mean the tenants are. And a lettings agent with lots of unhappy tenants could discourage them from using that agency again, regardless of how much they like your property.
● Decide which services you need
Some lettings agents may be better than others depending on what services you require. For example, are you looking for a lettings agent that just finds a tenant and sets up the initial contract, leaving you to manage the property once they’re in situ?
Or are you looking for a lettings agent that takes care of full property management on your behalf, including complaints and maintenance issues?
Deciding what level of service you want can be a key factor in choosing the right agent, especially if you don’t live close to the property.
● Check which money protection scheme they are In
All lettings’ agents are legally required to hold tenants’ deposits in a government-approved tenancy deposit scheme.
They are also required to be a member of a client money protection scheme (CMP). They’ll need to have a certificate confirming this, which is displayed prominently in their offices and on their website. If it’s not visible then ask to see it, and if they don’t have one then it’s a huge red flag.
● Ask about their marketing strategies
Find out which property sites they advertise on and do some research yourself. A quick search on the big three – Zoopla, Rightmove and On The Market – will help you to get an idea of how well they market their properties, and how successful they are at renting them out efficiently.
Is the lettings agent active on social media?
Do they have a blog or news page?
How active are they in the local community?
All of these things will have a bearing on their reputation in Bristol.
Look for things like photos and descriptions. Have the photos been taken professionally? Are the descriptions well written and error free? You want to employ the most professional agent you can find, so one that takes blurred pictures and makes sloppy spelling errors isn’t likely to be the best one you can find!
● Find a lettings agent you can build a relationship with
The relationship between the lettings agent and you, as their client is a very important one, that will hopefully be for the long-term.
Therefore, it’s worth getting a feel for them to find out if they’re a company you’ll want to do business with in the long-term. There’s no point choosing an agency you don’t trust and can’t get hold of just because they’re the cheapest option.
Find out when their opening hours are.
Can you get hold of them on a weekend for example?
How often do they carry out inspections and which tradespeople do they use?
Think about all the potential issues that could arise and make sure you’re happy with the answers.
And finally, check what the notice period is, just in case you do decide to leave them and go with another agency in future.
Looking for a reliable lettings agent with a great reputation? Northwood Bristol are your local lettings and property management experts for the Bristol area. Call us on 0117 9635777 or email email@example.com to chat with a member of our friendly and experienced team.