Choosing a letting agent is a decision not taken lightly. Aside from service offering and fees, there are numerous other points to consider; what level of property management is on offer? What property portals do they advertise on? How strong is their applicant database? What’s their average tenancy duration? And how long, on average, does it take them to let properties?
But even with extensive research and due diligence, landlords can still find themselves dissatisfied with their letting agent; perhaps not at first when agents are keen to impress and secure their first month’s fee, but further down the line the cracks can start to show.
We’ve outlined below some of the most common complaints we hear about other agents, from landlords looking to switch. But before we cover that, its important to answer the key question first:
“Can I switch letting agent?”
Yes! Changing letting agents is a straightforward and hassle-free process and can be done at any point, even while you have a tenant living in your property. As long as you have provided sufficient notice to your existing agent (based on the original contract or terms of business that you signed), you are completely within your rights to instruct a new letting agent to take over the management of your property. Further details on the transfer process can be found at the end of this blog.
Now for those common complaints
“My letting agent never calls me back”
This is by far, the most common complaint we hear about other agents and it causes great frustration to landlords. Too often, letting agents dodge calls from landlords and tenants to avoid those difficult conversations – particularly when they know you’re already dissatisfied. This may be due to a lack of resource or a lack of experience in dealing with the general (and often complex) management of rental properties. Choosing an experienced firm with a well-resourced team is key to a successful partnership.
“I speak to someone different every time I call, and they have no idea about my property”
Another frequent problem that landlords experience since most letting agents are set-up so that different people handle different aspects of the lettings process. This often means that that you could be liaising with ‘manager 1’ on Monday about a leak in your property over the weekend but ‘customer service rep 2’ is then responsible for finding a contractor to fix the problem on Tuesday but by Friday, the only person available to take your call is ‘administrator 3’ who isn’t up to speed on the details and is unable to confirm whether the work has been completed.
At Rettie, we provide our landlords a dedicated portfolio manager giving you a single point of contact and bespoke support to take the strain out of letting your property.
“I don’t receive my rent payments on time (or at all)”
This is the most worrying of issues experienced by many landlords and can be as a result of more fundamental issues. Tenant assessment and referencing are critical aspects of the lettings process and should be carried out by an experienced property manager, using specialist referencing agencies to carry out rigorous suitability checks. Without this, there is a much higher risk of rent arrears and issues further down the line.
It may sound obvious, but a using a letting agency with robust accounting processes in place, is also key. Landlords should receive rent payments from their letting agent within 48 hours of the tenant making payment.
“My property has been left in poor condition, and the agent has refunded the deposit”
While some level of wear and tear is expected in a rental property, this should always be reasonable based on the duration of the tenancy and importantly, it should never come as a shock to the landlord. Regular inspections are absolutely vital and your letting agent should provide you with a report after they have visited the property, at least every six months (but more frequently for new tenancies). This ensures that landlords are kept up to date with any areas of their property needing attention and that tenants are given regular advice on how to maintain and look after their home. The final detailed inspection after a tenant has vacated the property should be carried out by an experienced portfolio manager who can provide a realistic opinion on any work that may be required to ensure the property is ready to be re-advertised to the market. At Rettie & Co., use an experienced third party provider to carry out an independent check out report which is used to agree the amount deducted from deposits for damage and cleaning etc.
“Repairs carried out on my property are substandard and expensive”
Many agents have a list of preferred contractors who are called upon for repairs and improvements. However, it’s not enough to assume that the heating guy who’s worked for them “for years” is the right person to be let loose on your boiler. A professional letting agent should have a list of approved contractors with all the required certifications in place. For bigger works, you should be provided with quotes from multiple contractors to ensure you are not paying over the odds.
For some, the prospect of switching letting agents may seem daunting, but it needn’t be. Instead, landlords should look forward to a simple and hassle-free property journey, working with an expert, professional partner.
Rettie & Co. are a long established and trusted letting agent, approved on the Scottish Government Letting Agents Register as well as being a member of ARLA (Association of residential Letting Agents). In addition, we are regulated by RICS.
If you are looking to switch letting agents, we will take care of everything for you including liaising with your current agent to ensure an easy transition. All we need to get going is the following (we can obtain these from your current agent):
- Transfer of all keys to the property
- Safety certificates required to be passed over for records and logged on our system
- The original inventory which would have been completed prior to the tenancy starting
- The current lease agreement with your current tenant(s).
- Full disclosure of rent arrears or payment plans in place.
- Full handover from current agent on any specific matters in relation to the tenant(s) or property
In addition, there will be no disruption to your tenant(s) and we’ll liaise directly to keep them updated. The transfer process won’t disrupt them – the only change will be to bank details for the rental to be paid into and of course, a new point of contact.
If you have any concerns about your existing letting agent and would like to hear more about the simple process to change agent is easy, let us help you make the change.