Gatehouse estates

Finding a Good Letting Agent

Whether you are a professional landlord that owns several properties, or a newcomer to the ‘buy-to-let’ market, it is well worth investigating what makes a good letting agent, before you decide to use one.
Letting a property may seem like an easy way to make money, but being a landlord can be a complicated business. You might feel tempted to cut out the middleman and let the property out privately. Not having to pay letting agents’ fees will maximise profits, but unless you have a lot of experience in letting out properties, are willing to do some leg work, and are aware of the laws and regulations involved, it isn’t advisable to go it alone. Even if you are a landlord that owns a portfolio of properties, it’s often easier to use a professional letting agent
What to look out for, when looking for a letting agent.
A letting agent’s initial job is to find suitable tenants for a property, on behalf of its owner. The agents starts the process by generally providing a free rental valuation. In the case of Gatehouse Estates Property Management, this part of the process is free and includes advice on preparing the property in readiness for letting.

Once you have the advice, it’s up to you whether you accept the suggested rental value. Bear in mind that the letting valuer does this job daily and is probably in the best position to suggest the rent. However, it may be worth requesting that the agent tries your price. If they agree to try a higher rent, set yourself a short deadline before reverting to the agent’s advice otherwise you will likely lose more than you may have gained in the year by having an empty property for too long.

Once you have settled the rental figure, discuss how the agent will market your property. Most agents will place the property on their web site. They will probably take a picture for their availability list. They may even prepare some basic details.

What about the marketing? With web sites becoming the most effective marketing tool available today, it’s worth taking some time to investigate how good the agent’s site is and where else they will advertise your property on the internet.
The agent will usually show the property to prospective tenants and inform you of any interest shown or offers made on the property. They can act as a go-between during negotiations before a tenancy agreement is signed. The prospective tenant might offer a lower rent or ask for extra furniture to be provided.

Letting out. Once you have come to an agreement, the agent will provide a tenancy agreement, a legal contract, for both parties to sign. All of this can usually be done through the agent by phone or post, so there is no need to actually visit the property or meet the tenants.
 

What else can a letting agent provide? Many agents offer extra services, some of which might be included in their basic fees. Some agents offer a tenant vetting service, which could include taking up references or a credit check on prospective tenants, carried out in-house or by a sub-contracted company. Thorough tenant vetting is important – the last thing you want to worry about is whether the complete strangers you have rented to will be able to pay next month’s rent. Often, this service is either included in the basic letting fee or paid for by the prospective tenant. In the case of Gatehouse Estates Property management, the tenant vetting is included as part of the monthly fee.

Some agents also offer an inventory check service. This is a full list of the condition and contents of the property drawn up during an inspection at the beginning and end of the tenancy, in the presence of the tenant. This should help solve any disputes if you find the tenant has made material changes to your property such as simple things like carpet stains or worse, made holes in a door! Some agents will offer this service for free, others ask the tenant and landlord to share the cost. This service is also included at Gatehouse Estates Property Management when you use their normal letting service.

Most agents also offer to collect the rent and deposit on behalf of the landlord and arrange to renew a tenancy when the original period expires. It’s worth noting, however, that Landlords (or their letting agents) MUST now place deposits in a recognised deposit account that is part of a Tenancy Deposit Scheme, by law. You are no longer allowed to simply hold a deposit from a tenant without a legally recognised scheme to cover it.
They can also arrange for the property to be cleaned before the tenant moves in and at the end of the tenancy. Many offer a management service, which involves general maintenance and organising necessary repairs over the period of the tenancy. This is useful if you live away from the property or don’t have the time or inclination to deal with plumbers, electricians and other trades people. All of this also included in the standard service at Gatehouse Estates Property Management.

Gatehouse Estates Property Management rent properties in Cambridgeshire and Bedfordshire and includes the towns of St Neots, Huntingdon, Godmanchester, St Ives, Bedford and Kempston. Additionally, they offer properties to rent in the countryside in between those towns.

To arrange for a representative of Gatehouse Estates Property Management to assess the rental value of your property, either fill in this form and mail it , or call the following numbers if your property is in the local area.
Bedford and Kempston properties to let: 01234 345353
To let out in St Neots, Eaton Ford & Socon, Eynesbury: 01480 471444
To let in Huntingdon, St Ives and Godmanchester areas: 01480 433933

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