It’s a popular question and one that is frequently asked by both new and experienced landlords.
A recent report issued by The Property Ombudsman threw up some interesting findings and identified where some agents are falling short. You can read more at Are letting agents doing a good enough job for landlords (landlordtoday.co.uk)
If you drill down into the nature of the complaints, the main causes were lack of compliance, communication and co-operation. Otherwise, known as the three “Cs”.
The whole thorny issue of compliance is not going away and it’s become an integral part of the property management process – and quite rightly so.
Property professionals have a clear legal duty to ensure all rental properties are in a safe, habitable conditions and adhering to the rising number of sector regulations.
It also goes without saying that we need to comply with both the letter and the spirit of the law at every stage of the rental and management process.
Agents and landlords ignore legal duties at their peril as non-compliance can land us with a whacking great bill.
There were three recent cases where letting agents or landlords were hit with with fines ranging from £48k to £330k for compliance failures.
The Government also strengthened local authority’s enforcement powers by awarding an extra £4m to 100 councils earlier this year.
As with everything, it’s good to talk and an effective letting agent will keep the lines of communication open.
It’s vital that we understand the local market and be able to inform owners about the best options for maximising rental income.
It’s also vital that we engage with would-be and current tenants to understand their issues and hopefully tackle problems early and within the law.
This mutual co-operation can and does work – ignoring problems just results in escalation and problems for all sides, plus the risk of fines.
Co-operation and compliance also combine when it comes to offering carefully worded tenancy agreements, thorough inventories and schedules of condition.
Documents must be completed accurately, checked carefully and signed correctly. It sounds obvious but this approach can avoid a multitude of issues further down the line.
Likewise, it’s useful to spell out the basics as part of ongoing property management.
This includes offering tenants’ advice on how to maintain their homes on a daily basis. It can be as simple as showing people how to find a stopcock, simple boiler management and expectations relating to ongoing gardening and keeping the property’s fixtures and fittings clean.
None of it is rocket science but lettings agents need to demonstrate a thorough and current knowledge of the law, plus a strong commitment to customer service. As with all things, effective communication is always key.