Monthly Archives: March 2013

How to Choose Your Online Letting Agent

There are a number of letting agents available online now, such as The Online Letting Agents, each offering a similar service for a similar price, so which one do you choose?

Customer service – Clearly this is a very important factor when appointing an agent.  The best way to gauge the level of customer service that both you and potential tenants can expect to receive is to speak to the online agent directly.  It is important to gain an impression that the online agent will have your best interests at heart and be able to find you the kind of tenants that you are looking for.

A good online agent should have a selection of reviews available on their website, which are regularly being posted.  It is encouraging if these reviews are provided by both landlords and tenants, as this shows that their customer service extends to both parties.  Good reviews dating back some time show that the online agent has a consistently high quality service.

It can be the case that your property does not perform as well as you would like.  A good online agent should be able to offer you a review of the performance so far, and make recommendations as to how to improve the number or quality of leads being received.

Advertising – One of the main points of interest to landlords is the price of advertising, the length of time this advertising lasts, and the websites that their property will appear on.  Most online agents advertise across all of the UK’s leading property websites, with rightmove, the zoopla property group and gumtree providing the highest number of leads.  The price can vary across online agents, and the length of advertising can vary from one month to until let.  It is worth remembering that if the cost to the landlord is extremely low, then either someone else will be picking up the tab, or the service delivered will be considerably below par.

Lead Handling – The way that online letting agent’s handle enquiries vary.  Be aware that some online agents will provide the tenant enquirer with the landlord’s contact details.  This can lead to landlords being contacted an inconvenient times, and also being contacted directly by tenants that they have declined due to their suitability.  Whilst some landlords are comfortable with this arrangement, others will prefer their details to be kept private, and will only choose to give these out when they are ready to do so.

Some agents go the extra step of contacting enquirers to ensure that they meet your criteria, and will provide you with these and any other details that may be relevant to you.  This not only ensures that all tenant leads you receive meet your basic requirements, but gives you an insight in to their background, helping you to decide whether or not they are suitable for you.

It is important that the agent informs tenants of all the costs relating to the rental property when they make an initial enquiry.  Clearly it is a waste of everyone’s time if a tenant cannot afford the deposit, or if they later discover that there is an agency fee which they are not prepared to pay (typically the fee charged by online agents to tenants is significantly lower than that charged by their high street counterparts).

Customer Support – The path of a landlord is not always smooth, and it is good to know that the agent you appoint will be able to support you beyond the initial tenant find, should you require advice or assistance at any point.

The benefits of using an online agent are clear; from the massive cost savings they offer to the level of control they enable you keep over your property.  Once you have found an agent who understands your requirements, and offers you the level of service and support you want, you are all set for a long and happy future together!

Landlord Fined over Gas Safety

A landlord has been fined £17,000 after admitting endangering the lives of a family in one of her properties. Sima Yaqub, of Crescent Road, Sheffield, pleaded guilty at Sheffield Magistrates Court to five offences under the Gas Safety Regulations 1998. When the family moved into the property in City Road last July, Yaqub did not… Continue Reading

Accidental Landlord Blog

I have recently stumbled upon a great blog which features lots of great tips and advice for landlords and general musings on the buy to let industry. It’s fun, friendly, and written by a columnist in the Evening Standard, who is, herself, an accidental landlord, so why not take a look next time you have… Continue Reading

Energy Saving Trust & The Green Deal

Tenants in private rented housing want to go green – but are LEAST likely to be benefitting from energy efficient, money saving upgrades, new research from the Energy Saving Trust has found. The exclusive survey of more than 2,000 UK adults found of those living in privately rented housing: 39 per cent were interested in… Continue Reading

Blindingly Good Returns on BTL Encourages Investors

Britain’s biggest property listings website today said investors were piling into buy-to-let for “blindingly good returns” after the government’s efforts to bolster lending had created an “arbitrage of immediate return”. Rightmove said its research showed that rents are delivering average gross yields of “5.9 per cent”. Its monthly house price report stated: “With some remortgage… Continue Reading

Green Deal Has a Great First Month

According to figures released by the Department of Energy and Climate Change, more than 1,800 property assessments have been carried out in the first month of the government’s Green Deal scheme. The Green Deal, which was launched in England and Wales on January 28th, is a government scheme that allows homeowners to make improvements that will increase… Continue Reading

Social Landlord Warns Tenants About Subletting

A social landlord has issued a stark warning to tenants who sub-let their properties or obtain their home through deception, telling them that they could be made homeless and given a criminal record. Whitefriars Housing, Coventry’s largest affordable housing provider with 18,000 homes, has teamed up with the city council to catch fraudsters. Pauline White… Continue Reading

BM’s U-turn on BTL Mortgages for Landlords with Tenants on Benefits

Shortly after announcing that many of it’s BTL mortgage products would not allow housing benefit tenants, BM Solutions has now removed these restrictions. The company made the move after The Mortgage Works,  Nationwide’s buy-to-let arm, made a u-turn on a similar decision last week.  The Mortgage Works said it had decided to exclude buy-to-let tenants in… Continue Reading

People Choose to Rent Rather Than Buy

The mortgage provider Castle Trust has released figures which suggest that there has been a drastic increase in the number of people renting as opposed to taking out a mortgage. In 2012, the number of renters in the private sector reached 3.8 million, which is an increase of 23% on the 3.1 million figure for 2008.… Continue Reading

Top Letting Agents Slammed For Hiding Fees

In February 2013, the consumer group Which? carried out a number of mystery shopping tests on some of the major letting agents in London. Mystery shoppers who posed as potential tenants visited four different London branches of Foxtons, Barnard Marcus, Martin & Co and Your Move.  Their findings were that the fees that tenants would… Continue Reading