London Landlords – 5 Reasons Why They Need Their Letting Agent More Than Ever.
Licencing has become ever popular in the London boroughs, seeing new ‘selective’ licences being implemented, as well as additional HMO’s. London Property Licensing estimates that around 267,000 properties across privately rented homes in London qualify for a licence of some kind. Landlords need to apply for these (where applicable) via the local borough. This involves jumping through certain hoops that the average landlord may not have the knowledge on - causing a lengthy & stressful application. A good letting agent will be able to assist you with this, filling in any blanks that you may not know or ‘translating’ legal jargon. Not having a licence, or, not having the correct licence could mean a criminal prosecution and a hefty fine (up to £30,000!). Not to mention some boroughs could enforce an order to repay up to 12 months’ rent and you could receive fines for other breaches of regulatory compliance!
Along with licencing, compliance is another main focus in the private rental sector. When placing a tenancy, there are many documents that need to be served to new prospective tenants, some before the tenancy starts and all at a certain check point. Legislation requires you to serve a valid Energy Performance Certificate, Prescribed Information document, Deposit Certificate and Gas Safety Report (if applicable) but to name a few. Without all of the necessary documents in place, you can sabotage your efforts to invoke a valid Section 21 Notice to gain vacant possession. This can prove troubling should you wish to secure vacant possession of your property.
- Market Knowledge
A key driver. Any good local letting agent will have the right experience to be able to tell you when you should aim to market your property and for what price. This is imperative in securing the best deal possible, with good tenants & few vacant periods. It is no secret that a bad agent can over valuate your property to ‘woo’ you & secure the instruction, so be mindful when approaching multiple agencies. Equally, if a self-managing landlord decides to hit the market with an overpriced property, they could incur longer vacant periods & find it harder to secure good quality tenants. The best advice here would be go for the agent without the smoke and mirrors, listen to their advice & do your research.
- Tried & Tested Network of Contractors
Whilst sourcing the right contractors for the job can appear easy, there are naturally some hurdles that come with being a self-managing landlord (especially for the first time). Who do you call to fix that bathroom sink, and, are they charging a reasonable rate? A well-seasoned letting agent will have a tried & tested network of contractors who will be able to assist and usually at a competitive rate. Not only does this avoid invoice shock, it can also ensure your tenants feel more secure with them entering a home. Here at base, some of our contractors have been with us since day one – meaning our tenants feel less discomfort should they have to visit. However, if you do use an agent, we would recommend asking if there is any commission collected from this, and if so, how does this impact the pricing. Here at base, we do not add on any commission for any of our contractor visits- we simply source the best deals.
- Lower Risk of Rent Arrears
Rent arrears – something absolutely no landlord wants to have to address. Your agent will handle the rent collection each month and as a result you are less likely to incur any rent arrears. This is due to the tight monitoring of the accounts & rent due dates. Most agents will require tenants to pay a couple of days prior to their rent due date to ensure funds are cleared in that time. If they are not, then the agent will have some room to chase the rent payment. For self-managing landlords, this can prove a tricky subject to approach your tenants on. What’s more, is that tenants can sometimes take advantage of the fact that the landlord is self-managing & you may not know where to go for advice. Additionally, having a letting agent takes out any personal fronts from the situation.