- 1. Scan online letting agent fees
- 2. Compare online letting agents
- 3. Online letting agents performance
- 4. The most popular online letting agents
- 5. What the review sites say
- 6. Online letting agent checklist
- 7. Questions to ask your online letting agent
- 8. Consumer protection
- 9. Highstreet vs online
- 10. Using both type of agents
- 11. Your own viewings… scary?
- 12. Online letting agent FAQ
Are you considering letting your property or investing in a rental property though an online letting agent?
If so, you’re not alone. Countless landlords are turning to online letting agents to manage their rental properties.
Most landlords want their rental property as a form of passive income or even a career. While it takes an investment upfront, once you’ve established reliable tenants and an organised system, it can be a lucrative endeavour.
But the bottom line is, some people simply don’t have the time or interest in finding and vetting tenants, managing properties, performing routine maintenance, collecting rent, or filing all the necessary paperwork.
Does this describe you? If so, online letting agents can help make the rental process easier.
Online letting agents take the guesswork out of renting out your property. Not only do they perform all the above-mentioned tasks, but they act as the middle man between you and the tenants.
Before you get started, you can use our letting agent comparison tool to get a better idea of what online letting agent fees might cost.
Now, let’s dive into some of the best in the business!
1. SCAN HIGH STREET & ONLINE LETTING AGENT FEES
You may be torn between betting an online or traditional letting agent. Blurring the lines even more is the new ‘hybrid agent’
To get a full view of all letting agent types, including their fees, ratings & services, run a free letting agent comparison.
All you need to do is enter your postcode and a few details about your property
Compare Estate & Letting Agents
Enter your postcode & find the best agent for your property
2. COMPARE ONLINE LETTING AGENTS
For those in a rush, we’ve created an online letting agent calculator.
Just click on the services you need and the agent you’re interested in to see how much they’ll charge
Online Agent Calculator
If you’re unsure on your estimate rent or looking for a quick overview of online letting agent fees, then the below table will be of use to you.
Where an agent charges different prices for London vs the rest of the country, we’ve referenced the higher amount.
Online letting agent
|£1,050||The most expensive online letting agent. However the package includes viewings. Rent Collection Type Services: £145pcm + £950 one off fee. Fully Managed is priced at 9.2% pcm + £850 (one off fee)|
|£129||No frills service, landlord does the viewings. Rent Collection Type Services: £149pcm + £950 one off fee. Fully Managed: £5%pcm + £99 (one off fee)|
|£49||Vey basic services for £49. Upgrade available that includes referencing for £99|
|£49||The bare basics offered under this package. Fee includes 3 months advertising to find a tenant on the biggest portals. Fully Managed not on offer.|
|£99||Rent collection service: £39pcm + £99 one-off listing fee. Fully managed service: £59pcm + £99 one-off listing fee|
|£299||Rent collection offered as part of the fully managed service. Fully managed fee is 6% of rental income pcm|
|£49||You save £50 if you select the tenant find option with just 1 reference. Fully Managed is based on £85 pcm, one of the cheapest|
|£149||Fee includes tenant screening. Fully Managed £45 pcm|
|£24.95||Fee includes 3 month listing on all major portals. Full management £49.00 pcm|
|Free||Free advertising on the main portals. A range of add on fees for other services|
3. Online letting agent performance
Interested to know which online letting agent is the best in terms of performance?
To be clear, we mean which online agent gets the highest rents for their landlords and in what timeframe.
Both factors should be considered as one. There is no point an agent getting you the highest rent, if it takes them 3 months.
We’ve researched how online letting agents perform so you can make an informed decision on which to pick for your property.
The fastest online letting agent is a tie between LettingaProperty and The Online Letting Agents, both with an average of 3 weeks to let.
In terms of which agent gets landlords the highest rent, that’s 99home at £1,551, however this agent also takes the longest to let with an 11 week average.
|Online letting agent||Average rent obtained||Average time to let|
|£1,109 pcm||6 weeks|
|£1,551 pcm||11 weeks|
|£1,248 pcm||2 weeks|
|£1,486 pcm||3 weeks|
4. DETAILS ON THE MOST POPULAR ONLINE LETTING AGENTS
We’ve collated some details about some of the most popular online agents. Read below for details about how they were founded, their recent history, news & fees.
While there are online letting agent fees tied to contend with, most people consider them a fair trade for less aggravation, time, and headaches. Hybrid estate agents perform all the tasks of an online letting agent but are also considered a traditional, high street agent.
Does it sound like hiring online letting agents to manage your rental properties is a no brainer?
It kind of is! So, now you’re probably wondering which agency to choose. We’re here to give you a breakdown of some of the best online letting agents on market.
OpenRent is a landlord and tenant service that’s been featured on BBC, The Sun, The Telegraph, and Mirror just to name a few. Its for sure one of the best online letting agents.
OpenRent is committed to providing resources to landlords to help them succeed. Founded in 2012 and named one of the biggest letting agents in the UK in 2015, this is a fast-growing, highly-qualified online letting agent.
Some of OpenRent’s services include advertising on their site, advertising on popular portals such as Zoopla, and tenancy creation for landlords. But OpenRent doesn’t just offer services for landlords.
Their mission is to match quality landlords with quality tenants. This way, both parties know they’re entering into a secure and positive rental agreement.
Not only does OpenRent eliminate tenant fees for both renters and landlords, but their charges are completely transparent from the start. Landlords benefit from hands-on experience and assistance with advertising, finding the right tenant, and creating a tenancy agreement.
Renters don’t have to deal with pushy agents or tenant fees. OpenRent even offers filters to help tenants find the ideal property — from pet-friendly options to the best properties for students or large groups.
There are currently over 428,000 properties available to rent on OpenRent, with over 2.3 million registered landlords and tenants.
With an average turnaround time of just six days, finding the perfect property or the perfect tenant has never been easier than using online letting agents at OpenRent.
Are you looking for a personal rental experience? LettingaProperty.com is ideal for self-managing landlords. Not your normal online letting agents, LettingaProperty.com is committed to creating a more modern rental experience.
Both tenants and landlords can benefit from supportive online resources that make understanding and managing the rental process online easy and convenient.
One of the leaders in the best letting agent rankings, LettingaProperty.com has been a leading name in online letting agents since 2008.
In this time, they’ve received countless awards and recognitions including the Landlord Buy to Let Award for Best Website, the GoodWebGuide’s Property Website of the Year award, and top makes in an independent Property Ombudsman survey. Over 98% of customers recommend LettingaProperty.com to a friend or other professionals.
Customer service is of utmost importance at LettingaProperty.com with the value placed on a positive landlord and tenant interactions.
LettingaProperty.com is proud partners with The UK Association of Letting Agents, National Landlords Association, Safe Agent, and the Property Ombudsman, which means clients get access to a wide range of expertise and professionals in the field.
Landlords, you’ll have access to rent management, legal cover, rent protection, and guaranteed rent collection on time, based on the plan you choose. LettingaProperty.com works in partnership with Zoopla, Rightmove, and over 100 partner sites for wide-spread advertising opportunities.
Tenants can use the website’s convenient property search tool to find recent listings that match their unique needs and requirements.
Griffin Property Co. was established in 2000 as a high street agent and went online in 2015. Having looked at different online offerings, they decided to enter the marketplace with the most cost-effective rental packages in the UK.
They offer 2 rental options, the standard package is a tenant find only service for £24.95, this is for a 3-month listing. The premier package is £69.95 and adds tenant referencing, tenancy agreement, collection of first month’s rent and deposit registration with the DPS.
When you sign up with Griffin Property Co, your property is listed on Rightmove, Zoopla, Prime Location and over 200 other property sites for maximum exposure.
With their simple four step process, your property can be advertised nationally in as little as 30 minutes.
Sellers/renters never miss an enquiry using the unique messaging system on their website. All enquiries are backed up by text and email notifications, ensuring you are updated wherever you are.
The management service is an ideal choice for property owners who have tenants in situ or are unhappy with their current estate agent. They offer a simple fixed fee solution to ensure you receive value for money and complete piece of mind whilst content in the knowledge that your property is being professionally managed
Silver Winners of the ESTA Online Estate Agent Awards 2021
Purplebricks Estate Agents (the biggest, but is it the best?)
With virtual viewings and a commitment to health and safety, Purplebricks Estate Agents are helping residents move safely in accordance with the latest government guidance.
In the face of the recent Coronavirus pandemic, Purplebricks is committed to providing the same quality online letting agent services clients are accustomed to. Free valuations are now offered virtually using Skype, WhatsApp, or your preferred platform.
If you prefer an in-person valuation, professional and experienced letting agents are happy to accommodate you using social distancing best practices, making them a leader in hybrid estate agents.
Clients then receive a comprehensive valuation report and guided instructions on how to list their property fast. The next steps include creating an individualized advertisement, managing the listings, and closing the deal.
Aside from safety, Purplebricks Estate Agents prides itself on employing dedicated, local experts and fair fees. Purplebricks Estate Agents are some of the most reviewed online letting agents around. Not only does this company let properties and find renters, but also buys and sells properties fast and efficiently.
Landlords receive the first month free, advertisements on Rightmove, hands-on support and guidance from start to finish, and several packages to choose from.
This allows landlords to choose the online letting agent fees that work best for them. Renters can book viewings immediately after searching multiple properties, speak to experts and take advantage of Purplebrick’s mobile app.
When it comes to buying and selling, clients are guided through the entire process by local property experts that know the area and the market. Photos, floor plans, and advertisements are all included in the online letting agent fees.
Looking to buy a property? Interested investors can easily search and book viewings and speak to industry experts for advice and direction.
The Online Letting Agents
The Online Letting Agents was created by landlords sick of paying high letting agent fees and frustrated over dealing with traditional high street agents. The Online Letting Agents pride themselves on friendly, knowledgeable, and enthusiastic staff that help landlords secure reliable tenants for less.
Known for their excellent customer service skills, The Online Letting Agents are available to answer all your questions and inquiries to help simplify the letting process and offer support every step of the way. They also have an excellent, 5-star rating according to Trustpilot.
The Online Letting Agents’ website is easy to use and navigate. Simply register and choose the silver or gold package. You can also choose from individualized services. The cheapest package (£129) is for landlords who want to manage their own property but need help finding and referencing tenants. Partially managed packages start at 3.5% per calendar month while fully managed services are 5% per calendar month. Services for commercial properties are available starting at £150.
The Online Letting Agents will advertise your property on all the major letting portals including Zoopla, Rightmove, Primelocation, Gumtree, Find a Property, and more! The team of letting agents will handle all inquiries, screen potential clients, and forward you interested leads. From here, you can set up a convenient time for property viewings and other important meetings. The Online Letting Agents will also handle all necessary paperwork and see all negotiations from start to finish.
Additional services include inventory lists, gas safety checks, premium listings, and tenancy admin tasks.
99 Home is one of the UK’s fastest-growing online letting agencies offering cutting-edge technology and competitive pricing. With packages starting at as low as £29, 99 Home has services and packages to suit all types of landlords. With round-the-clock service and expertise, you’ll have an expert agent guiding you every step of the way.
99 Home offers four letting and full property management packages with the basic package costing nothing at all! The silver package is their most popular and moderately priced at £499 including VAT. This includes a free one-week featured listing on Zoopla.
Whether you’re buying, selling, letting, or renting both commercial and real estate property, 99 Home has an affordable option for you. Most packages include professional photographs, detailed floor plans, marketing software, and property management services.
99 Home takes theirs and your reputation very seriously which is why they’re always abreast of the most recent real estate laws and always fulfill their legal obligations. 99 Home is also a proud member of The Property Ombudsman Redress Scheme.
Are you a landlord looking to let out your property without the help of a letting agent? While some property owners consider this a risky approach, Mashroom makes it a simple, easy, and secure process.
Landlords who register with Mashroom get a free 30-day listing on Rightmove and Zoopla, access to easy-to-use property management tools, free same-day rent collection, and managed maintenance with over 7,000 reputable contractors. Mashroom gives landlords all the resources they need to succeed.
Mashroom has proudly been featured on BBC, Independent, Yahoo, MSN, and Mirror. The Mashroom platform is rooted in truth and transparency, with the ultimate goal to help the relationship between tenants and landlords bloom.
Once you list your property you’ll start receiving inquiries within minutes. Now you can conduct viewings, vet candidates, and offer deposit-free renting to approved tenants. Mashroom doesn’t charge fees or commissions.
Mashroom gives landlords complete visibility and control over their listings and the entire letting process. Mashroom also offers additional services including insurance and mortgages for those who need financial backing.
5. What the review sites say about the biggest online letting agents
When reviewing online letting agents, it can be difficult.
Each seem to use a different platform to collect reviews and depending on which review site you check out, the picture painted about the online letting agent can be very different.
We’ve collated a summary of how online letting agents are reviewed below.
Just because Purple Bricks is the most expensive online letting agent, does it mean it’s the best? Online ratings and reviews show mixed opinions.
While Trustpilot gives Purplebricks an excellent, 4.4-star rating, the letting agent didn’t perform nearly as well according to Reviews.io, AllAgents, and reviews.co.uk.
These other review sites have Purplebricks coming in at below a 2-star rating. The main complaint of landlords and sellers is a lack of communication and support. Multiple property owners claim to have sold or let their properties on their own, with little help from the agent while others report never getting a callback at all. Out of 407 reviews on Reviews.io, Purplebricks received a 1.3 rating.
The agency didn’t perform much better on AllAgents. With 238 reviews, Purplebricks received 1.3-stars out of 5. While some people view the positive reviews on Trustpilot as skeptical, property owners rave about Purplebricks’ professionalism and reasonable pricing.
The Online Letting Agents
Upon an initial search of The Online Letting Agents, property owners might be pleased to see this agency received a 5 out of 5-star rating. With a closer look, you’ll find that this is based on just one customer review on AllAgents.
However, The Online Letting Agents did hold strong with a 4.6-star rating on Property Investment Project based on 28 reviews.
This agency’s showing on Trustpilot is even more impressive with a 4.9-star, excellent rating, and over 1,000 reviews! These top ratings are attributed to their quick response times, professionalism, and thoroughness. Of the few negative reviews you might find, tenants and landlords cited poor property management and not adhering to contract details.
According to Trustpilot, OpenRent offers a great customer experience with a 4.2-star rating and over 2,225 reviews. Out of 38 reviews on the Property Investment Project, OpenRent received a 4-star rating.
While several landlords credited OpenRent’s customer service and affordable pricing, others cited trouble communicating with their agent on multiple occasions.
Several clients report being encouraged to send an email versus calling the office only to receive no response. On the other hand, DIY landlords claim this online letting agency offers just the right amount of support without overstepping.
From 600 reviews on ReviewCentre.com, Lettingproperty.com received a 4.9 out of 5-star rating. Satisfied clients credited the agency’s professionalism, thoroughness, and reliability as key factors in their rating.
Many landlords and tenants also report being repeat customers of this company thanks to its reliable service. According to Property Road reviews, Lettingproperty.com received an overall 9.4 rating out of 10.
Some of the main pros of Lettingproperty.com on this review site include affordable pricing and packages as well as the option to add additional services. On the downside, some customers are wary of using this agency because it’s smaller and not as established as the other UK letting agents.
RentMyHome.co.uk has racked up over 330 reviews on Trustpilot, earning this agency an excellent, 4.6 out of 5-star rating.
AllAgents also has RentMyHome.co.uk coming in with a 4.3-star rating out of 18 reviews. Some of the agency’s key features include friendly and efficient agents, fast results, and competitive pricing.
Other, less-than-satisfied customers report dealing with multiple agents for a single listing, which slowed down the letting process and created a breakdown in communication. Others warned against paying the agency’s upfront fees.
With nearly 950 reviews on Trustpilot, 99home letting agency received an impressive 4.9-star rating.
99home’s 9.2 out of 10 rating on Property Road just confirms what most landlords and clients have to say about this company.
Pleased clients credit the agency’s success with their efficient communication, professionalism, availability, and proactive approach.
Of the minimal negative reviews of 99home, displeased clients report slow response times, an overwhelming amount of options, and the fact that their ‘no sale, no fee’ package doesn’t include viewings.
Avoid confusion or disappointment by asking plenty of questions about which package you choose including the specific services and fees it offers.
6. Online letting agent checklist
Online letting agents offer a great way for landlords to save on their rental costs. The low fees & flexible packages are helping online letting agents grow their market share in the rental market.
Below is a checklist for landlords to follow, to ensure the process of getting an online letting agent is as smooth as possible.
1. YOUR TIME
To get the benefits of an online agent (the low costs!), you may need to do some of the work yourself. This includes activities such as conducting viewings and collecting rent. Make sure before getting an online agent you have the time.
2. COMPARE FEES
Use Rentround to compare fees of both traditional and online letting agents. The search is free and will help you reduce your letting agent costs
Determine what services you want, starting from just tenant find services to full management.
4. ADD ONS
Check that the online agent offers all the services you need now, and potentially in the future. Some online agents don’t offer as much as others (i.e. inventories, repairs, guaranteed rent etc).
5. YOUR RENT
Make sure you and your chosen online agent agree on the expected rent. Do your research beforehand, checking rent on other properties in your area. An online agent may not have the local knowledge a high street agent has, so you should spend extra time on your own due diligence.
6. SIGN THE DEAL
Sign up with an online letting agent. Be sure to check the terms & condition, as well as any hidden fees. Our guide on letting agent fees helps on what to look out for.
One of the main advantages with an online letting agent is the cheap access to post your property on the major property portals. Check on the portal that your advert is in good shape and there are no mistakes. This is even more important if you’ve paid a fee to the online agent that isn’t dependent on your property being filled.
8. HANDLE ENQUIRIES
If you’ve gone for a basic package with your online letting agent, you’ll need to handle enquiries & organise viewings. Make sure you brush up on your showcasing skills. You’ll need to be able to draw out the positives & answer questions on the negatives when showing tenants your property.
9.PICK YOUR TENANT
Hopefully you’ve had enough people bidding to move into your property. Pick a tenant with a good reference history and who’s a good fit for your property. This is even more important when your property is a HMO with existing tenants – the last thing you want is to be dealing with internal bickering!
10. ENJOY YOUR SAVINGS
Enjoy the savings you’ve made and treat yourself to something nice, knowing you’ve secured the best letting agent!
7. QUESTIONS TO ASK YOUR ONLINE LETTING AGENT
Once you decide to let out your property, the next step is to choose the right online letting agent. Different agents offer different services from fully-managed services to referencing tenants and completing all the necessary paperwork.
But not just any agent will do. You need one with experience and a good reputation. You’ll want to prepare the right questions to ask to see if the agent is going to be a good fit.
Need help brainstorming some ideas? Here are the top questions to ask your online letting agent to ensure they’re a good fit.
WHAT’S YOUR RECORD OF SUCCESS?
A good (or bad) reputation goes a long way. One of the first questions to ask your online letting agent is what their record of success is.
How many properties have they managed and how quickly do they find tenants?
Beware of any letting agents that guarantee a specific turnaround time. Even the best online letting agents can’t guarantee they’ll find you a quality tenant in a certain period of time, but ask, on average, how soon they can fill your vacancy. Don’t be afraid to ask for proof and specific statistics.
Any letting agent can rattle off a ton of statistics without proof to back up their claims.
A reputable letting agent will have no problem showing you their portfolio.
In fact, they’ll be happy to boast about their past success. If possible, talk to previous clients and ask what their experience with the specific letting agent or agency is. Word of mouth is a great way to get insight into an agent’s experience and track record.
But remember, just because a letting agent has managed hundreds of properties doesn’t mean they’ve managed them well. Make sure the agent you hire isn’t overloaded or spread too thin or it’ll reflect in their service (or lack of).
Longevity and experience are two key things to look for in a successful letting agent. Find out what they know about the local market and what training and credentials they have. If you’re using an agency, ask if you’ll be working with the same letting agent for the duration of the tenancy agreement.
You want consistent contact with the same agent. That way, they know the tenants, the parameters of the agreement, and your personality. Switching agents mid-stream or flip-flopping from one to another is not only stressful but leads to careless errors and miscommunication.
Also, ask the agent what their plans are for the future. Do they plan to stay with the agency long-term? What are their working hours and do they have an office space? All of these factors impact their availability and your future interactions.
HOW MUCH MONTHLY RENT CAN I CHARGE?
Let’s face it. You’re letting out your property to make money. An important question to ask the letting agent you hire is how much rent your property will bring in. Ask for a valuation of the property’s rental potential.
Once they give you a number, ask them what it’s based on.
Things like location, the size of the property, and the local real estate market all play a role in rental amounts. Reputable letting agents will provide comparisons to other properties in the area similar to yours and what they’re valued at. This helps you see, in black and white, why your property is worth what the agent suggests.
Don’t get defensive if the agent comes back with a figure much lower than you expected. Instead, ask them to show and explain why they’re valuation is so low. Experienced agents have insight about the local market and should have no problem explaining their valuation.
Remember, even a low monthly rent is better than no rent at all. If the agent can’t provide this information, there’s likely a reason and you should probably move on.
WHAT ORGANIZATIONS ARE YOU A PART OF?
You’re not just hiring the letting agent but also the professionals they’re associated with. Be sure to ask the letting agent what organizations they’re a part of and what other professionals they work with.
Find out if the agent is registered with the Association of Letting Agents (ARLA), the National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA), or the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS). Similar to licensed contractors and local officials, the letting agent you choose should be back by one of these professional bodies.
Ask the agent if they have specific contractors, inspectors, and solicitors they work with. While you’re not obligated to use these individuals, having a recommendation can be helpful. Just be sure to check any hidden fees associated with using the agent’s recommendation.
In some cases, they receive a kick-back which is their incentive for referring clients. They might be suggesting certain professionals for their own benefit, not yours.
WHAT SPECIFIC SERVICES DO YOU OFFER?
You need to know what you’re hiring the letting agent for, which is why one of the most important questions to ask your online letting agent is, “What services do you offer?” Most agents offer everything from fully-managed services and property management to individual services like tenant referencing and rent collection. A few common services to inquire about include paperwork, repairs and maintenance, and inventory checks.
Ask the letting agent if their fees include all rent-related paperwork. This includes tenant referencing, credit checks, and drafting tenancy agreements.
Your letting agent should also handle any paperwork in the event of an eviction. They should know the necessary steps to take to perform a legal eviction and what both yours’ and the tenants’ legal rights are.
Maintenance and Repairs
Ask the letting agent how often they plan to perform maintenance on your property and what it includes. Do they offer both indoor and outdoor upkeep, as well as structural maintenance?
Repairs, especially emergency ones, must be done within 24-hours. Ask the letting agent if they can uphold this standard. As the landlord, it’s your job to maintain a safe living environment. Emergency repairs are a big part of this equation.
Also ask the letting agent if they’ll be available by phone 24/7 in the event of an emergency. If you’re paying for this service, the last thing you want is your phone ringing at midnight! You’re paying a letting agent to handle these headaches for you.
Inventory checks are especially important if you plan to let a fully furnished property. Either way, ask the letting agent how they perform the inventory checks and what documentation they provide.
Agents should take photographs and make detailed notes about the contents of the property before any tenants move in. This way, if anything is damaged, lost, or stolen, the letting agent can hold the tenant accountable.
This is usually done by deducting the amount from their deposit, if one was taken. Some landlords prefer to hand over all responsibility to the letting agent while others want to be more involved. Determine how little or much you want the agent to do and what it’s worth.
For some landlords, peace of mind, reduced stress, and less hassle is priceless.
WHAT ARE YOUR FEES?
Speaking of priceless, how much will hiring a letting agent cost? This is another important question to ask. After all, you’re most likely letting out your property to make a profit.
The letting agent fees you pay will cut into that profit. Ask the agent how much they charge for their services and how they’ll be paid. Some letting agents offer guaranteed rent which means they pay you on time every month, regardless of whether or not the tenant pays on time.
Of course, there’s a fee associated with this. Fully-managed services will cost more than individual services, so be sure to consider this when setting the rental amount and budgeting overhead expenses. Some letting agent fees are a fixed rate while others are a percentage of the monthly rent. Ask for specific figures and amounts prior to entering into an agreement.
WHAT’S YOUR METHOD FOR FINDING RELIABLE TENANTS?
Finding reliable tenants is one of the biggest challenges landlords face and one reason so many hire letting agents for help. But where (and how) do agents find responsible, good tenants?
Ask your letting agent this question. What is their method for finding and vetting quality tenants? Ask them to explain the process to you, as well as what they consider must-have qualities of a good tenant.
These usually include good credit scores, proof of income, and positive reviews from prior landlords. Ask the letting agent if they call previous landlords and what background checks they perform. You also want a letting agent with connections and resources for finding quality tenants. One way to find them is by actively advertising your property. Ask the letting agent how they plan to attract new and interested candidates.
Marketing should be a huge part of your letting agent’s plan!
Ask them how and where they plan to list the property and handle showings. Ask to see photographs of your property and listings once they’re available online.
You can also ask if they have a tenant database and if so, how many people are included on the list. Ask the letting agent how they field inquiries as well.
You may also want to ask what their office hours are. A lot of people work 9-5 jobs Monday through Friday. Letting agents with weekend hours are more likely to attract more tenants.
The same is true for online agents that also have office space. This increases visibility and foot traffic. Lastly, ask which realtor platforms your property will be listed on. The most popular sites include Zoopla and Rightmove.
HOW DO YOU HANDLE LATE PAYMENTS AND EVICTIONS?
If the letting agent you hire will be with you for the long haul and plans to perform rent collection, ask them how they’ll handle late payments. Ask if they offer guaranteed rent.
These tasks are also part of a fully-managed property agreement where the letting agent will perform routine maintenance and repairs, inventory checks, and in the event of non-payment, file for an eviction.
Your letting agent acts as a buffer between you and your tenants, helping sustain a positive relationship. Be sure that the agent’s approach, personality, and demeanor are appropriate since they’re the ones interacting with the tenants directly.
WHAT MONEY PROTECTION SCHEMES DO YOU USE?
A law passed in April of 2019 requires that all letting agents and landlords protect the tenants’ deposit in a government-approved client money protection scheme (CMP). This must be done within 30 days of receiving the money.
In order to stay compliant, ask the letting agent what types of schemes they use and the details of the process. At the end of the day, anything that doesn’t comply with the government guidelines will fall on your shoulders. Make sure the letting agent is handling things by the book.
The government website has a list of approved CMP schemes for the letting agent to reference, but they should know this already! Not only must the deposit be protected in an approved CMP but it also must be displayed on their website and in their office.
Ask the letting agent how and where they hold yours’ and the tenants’ money. Another new rule indicates that letting agents must deposit all money in an FCA-authorized bank where it’s protected by professional indemnity insurance.
THE MORE YOU KNOW, THE BETTER
They say, in life, there are no silly questions. Knowing the right questions to ask your online letting agent helps clear the air before entering into an agreement or signing any long-term contracts.
It also guarantees that you remain compliant and that your property and money is being managed legally.
Get all the information upfront so you can make an educated, researched decision about who you’re trusting your property and money with.
8. Consumer Protection
There was a time when letting agents and landlords were largely unregulated, leaving tenants and their money vulnerable.
This all changed in 2007 when the UK passed a law requiring landlords to protect their client’s money in a government-approved deposit protection scheme within 30 days of receiving it.
These same rules apply to both online and high street agents. The most popular schemes include The Deposit Protection Service, MyDeposits, and Tenancy Deposit Scheme.
Once the money is placed in a secure scheme, agents must provide tenants with a copy of the deposit certificate and other prescribed information. These details explain how the protection scheme works and what your rights are in the event there’s a dispute over the money.
As long as you pay all your rent on time, don’t damage the property, and uphold your side of the tenancy agreement, you’re entitled to your deposit back.
Deposit schemes are designed to not only protect your money but also your best interests. If at any time you and your landlord or agent have a disagreement, you can take your case to the scheme where your money is located. Tenants can expect a certain level of security whether working with an online or high street letting agent.
9. highstreet vs online
Some people adopt an old-school way of thinking and believe that high street agents such as Savills are the only way to go. While these letting agents bring their own set of benefits to the table, you shouldn’t overlook or discredit online letting agents just yet.
Some of the biggest complaints about online letting agents come from their direct competitors – high street agents. These tedious and sometimes unfounded arguments are just proof that some traditional agents are concerned about losing their business to less expensive, more tech-savvy online agents.
If you prefer working with your letting agent face-to-face, hiring a high street agent might be best.
But if you’re looking to save money and don’t mind doing some of the legwork yourself, you could benefit financially from using an online agent. It’s even been said that online and high street agents conduct business so differently, that it’s not really fair to compare them. However, here are some of the most notable differences:
High Street Agents
- Have a local storefront or office
- Conduct viewings and open houses in-person
- Provide a sale board for the property
- Meet with you in-person
- Have a direct pulse on the local community and market
- Charge more for their extensive services
Online Letting Agents
- Offer all of their services online
- Don’t conduct viewings or host in-person meetings
- Advertise your property on prominent online property portals
- Communicate via email, phone, or chat
- Charges less for their services
As you can see, choosing an online agent vs a high street agent is all about preference. If you’ve heard nothing but bad things about online agents, chances are, those rumors are being spread by high street agents desperate to salvage their clients.
There are several things (besides just price) that set high-street letting agents and online letting agents apart. Neither is better or worse than the other – they’re simply different and offer different services based on your location, needs, and budget.
Here are the main areas where you’ll see the biggest differences.
If you’re looking to let out a property, you’re probably interested in making money. That’s why the cost of letting agent services usually tops the list of importance. The old adage, “you get what you pay for” does apply here – sort of. Simply put, high-street agents charge more because they do more and have more overhead, while online letting agents offer fewer in-person services and, therefore, charge less.
Finding and Referencing Tenants
The most popular and, arguably, the most important service both online and high street letting agents offer is finding tenants. Whether you’re new to property management or have been a landlord before, you know all too well that finding reliable, trustworthy tenants can be difficult.
Both online and high street agents will post your listing on property portals like RightMove and Zoopla. Most high street agents will handle any inquiries that come in by answering questions and communicating with the potential tenant, whereas online letting agents leave this to you. They’ll advertise your property and generate interest but landing a deal is up to you.
The same can be said for referencing or vetting tenants. Online agents don’t offer these services, whereas most high street agents do. Taking the first offer that comes your way isn’t a smart idea without performing some important research first. You need to confirm that the tenant is financially secure and has enough steady income to support the monthly rental payment. A high street agent will help with checking the applicant’s financial regards and speaking with previous landlords to see what type of tenant they were. Most online agents don’t offer reference checks.
Both online and high street letting agents offer rent collection as part of their services but may go about it differently. Agents can set up a direct deposit into your account (minus their fee) or high street agents may choose to collect the rent in person. This allows them to do a visual check on the property periodically to make sure things are in order and there’s no damage.
In addition to collecting rent, both types of agents handle late payments and evictions. Keep in mind, though, that an online agent can only do so much in terms of handling unreliable tenants since they lack a local presence.
One many difference between online letting agents and high street agents is that the latter offers fully managed services. This means the agent handles every aspect of the tenancy agreement from start to finish.
They list and advertise your property, conduct viewings, find and vet tenants, handle inquiries, draw up the tenancy agreement, collect rent, perform an inventory (if the property is furnished), handle any necessary repairs or maintenance, and serve eviction notices when necessary.
Fully-managed services are for accidental landlords or those who simply want to collect payment without getting their hands dirty. Online letting agents don’t offer these extensive, thorough services.
Even with fully-managed services, landlords are legally responsible for the property, which is why you need to hire a reputable agent you can trust.
Local Knowledge and Presence
Most high street agents have an office or storefront in the community. This allows for increased foot traffic and interest in your property. It also gives high street agents a pulse on the local community and market.
Online agents, on the other hand, work on a more national level. That means they have access to a larger audience of potential tenants but they may lack in-depth, local knowledge and details about a specific area. It’s important to note, though, that most properties are found online through property portals like Zoopla and Rightmove, which don’t require local knowledge or a storefront.
We live in a highly digital world where most people communicate via text, phone, or email. This is common practice for both high street and online letting agents. If you prefer to shake hands and see your letting agent face-to-face, you’ll want to hire a high street agent with an office. Remember, though, that high street agents will hold normal business hours where online agents may be available 24/7 through their website’s chat feature or email.
10. using both type of agents
Can’t choose between an online letting agent or a high-street agent? You don’t have to! This isn’t a “one or the other” type situation. If both types of agents fit your needs and budget, you can hire them for individual services.
Here are a few ways to take this approach.
Set a budget for online letting agent fees. Let’s say, £50. With that money and a little time, see if you can land a tenant. At the same time, let a high-street agent search for tenants at another minimal fee. Then, just sit back, relax, and wait to see who comes out on top.
One bonus about letting a high-street agent search for tenants is that you don’t have to pay them unless you sign an agreement with the tenant they find. If the high-street agent does come out victorious, you may lose the £50 you spent on the online agent, but that’s a small price to pay if you’re now collecting steady rent for several months or even years.
You can also start with an online agent while taking on the role of hands-on landlord yourself. If this becomes too overwhelming, time-consuming, or stressful, you can choose to hire a high-street agent later on to manage the property.
11. YOUR OWN VIEWINGS… SCARY?
Not everyone is a natural-born salesman. If you choose to forgo “viewing” services and conduct your own viewings and showings for your property, you may be worried about your ability to “sell” the property.
Don’t be! Sometimes, less is more. You don’t need to make an over-the-top presentation or sales pitch. All you need to do is be personable, and friendly, and give them a little space during the viewing. Be available to answer questions but don’t stand over their shoulder at every turn. Chances are, if they’re interested during that initial viewing, as long as you’re pleasant, they’ll make an offer.
If you’re looking to rent in this market, the ball is in your court. With rental properties in high demand and inventory low, you won’t have to promote your property too hard. Don’t get hung up on the sales portion of letting your property without an agent.
It usually requires little more than showing them around and answering a few questions.
12. Online letting agent FAQ
Are online letting agents cheaper?
Yes, online letting agents are cheaper. Lower overheads, namely in the form of no need for a high street presence helps keep the costs of using an online letting agent low.
How much does an online letting agent cost?
The cost of an online letting agent varies on the service you want. To find a tenant, charges will be £50-£500. For management services, online agents usually cost between £80-£100 per month.
Are online letting agents any good?
For many landlords online letting agents provide a great service. The low costs of an online agent helps landlords retain rental profit. When using an online letting agent, landlords may have to do more tasks themselves, such as conduct viewings and deal with tenant issues.
Which online letting agent has the best reviews?
Reviews vary, depending on what review site you look at. It’s best to use Rentround to compare online letting agent fees, services and performance. You can find the best performing online letting agent for free using Rentround
How can I find the best online letting agent?
Rentround offers landlords the chance to compare both traditional and online letting agents for free. Within 30 seconds you can see the fees of online letting agents and their performance.
What does an online letting agent do?
In general an online letting agent will do most of the activities a ‘normal’ letting agent does. With some online letting agents, they may not have a local presence. Which means they don’t have anyone to take pictures of your property, conduct viewings or deal with problems with the property. For an additional fee, online agents can offer these services, or landlords can choose to conduct these activities themselves. An online letting agent will be able to offer a rental valuation, advertise your property and conduct tenant checks.
Are online letting agents on Zoopla & Rightmove?
Most are on these portals, advertising properties of signed up landlords. These portals do not let private landlords advertise their properties. As a result online letting agents offer a great and cost effective way to post properties.