Finding the best letting agent can be a tricky task. The estate & letting agent profession is deemed the 7th most untrustworthy profession. However for a busy landlord, getting the best letting agent is critical to enjoying leisure time & safeguarding a property investment. So how does a landlord find the best letting agent, in an industry with such a bad reputation?
In our opinion, there are two types of letting agents. The vast majority, have your best interests at heart. The best letting agents provide a good service to landlords, ensuring a long term partnership with both benefiting.
Then there’s the minority, the reason why the industry tarnished with a poor reputation. These are the letting agents that offer a poor service based on a high fees & a lack of accountability.
The repercussions of using the wrong letting agent are substantial.
You’ll soon see large %’s of your rental income eaten up before it hits your account, poor tenants and a lack of compliance to property regulation.
Here are a list of things to look out for when trying to get the best letting agent in your area
To quickly scan the market for the best letting agents in your area, use Rentround. Using your postcode, you can quickly see letting agents in your area & their fees.The tool is completely free to use!
1. WHERE TO FIND THE BEST LETTING AGENT
It’s not easy finding your ideal letting agent. There are thousands of agents in the UK. The options include big brand names, large franchises, hybrid agents & online letting agents.
The first step to finding a good agent is knowing where to look for one and what factors you should consider.
Below we cover where to search and things to look out for.
FINDING THE BEST LETTING AGENT VIA GOOGLE
Entering “letting agents near me” is probably the most common way people find their letting agent.
Google will of course quickly show all letting agents near you, ranked according to it’s search engine algorithm.
However Google and other search engines will show first the letting agents that have optimised their sites to align with search engine algorithms. This favours the larger letting agents with marketing teams and the higher advertising budgets.
Sure the smaller agencies use Google to advertise, but the larger firms have 10x larger advertising budgets. This makes it difficult for the smaller firsts to appear in the top set of results.
Therefore on 9/10 occasions you won’t see the smaller firms listings and be guided to the larger letting agency web pages instead.
FINDING THE BEST LETTING AGENT VIA TRUST PILOT
Trust pilot is a great way to judge a letting agent’s performance.
It’s not possible to see all agents in your area and see in a single list their reviews.
Instead, you’ll need to have a short list of potential letting agents and search for their reviews one by one.
The higher volume of reviews an agent has, the easier it is to get a higher ranking.
For instance a smaller firm with 10 reviews all rated 5 stars, will be ranked lower than a larger company with 1,000 4 star reviews.
This again, puts the smaller firm, with a lower volume of clients at a disadvantage.
Furthermore, if you’re looking for a letting agent for a property in Birmingham, the nationwide larger agencies will have reviews from other cities in their ranking number. This skews the results for where your property is based.
The first job is to know who are the best rated letting agents. Any letting agents not rated highly, should be disregarded. Poor ratings obviously indicate a subpar service.
Rentround is a great focal point to find the best letting agent for your property. Our site enables you to see fees & ratings of letting agents in your area.
Searching for letting agents is completely free for landlords.
After entering your property postcode and details, agents in your area will be shown.
Also included in the results are the letting agents fees, ratings & regulatory bodies they are associated with.
Making it easier to talk further with your potential agent, with a click of a button you can choose which agent(s) to send your details to.
Run a letting agent search and see how much you can save
FIND THE BEST LETTING AGENT: CONSIDER SERVICE SEPARATION
Asking around, talking to experts and researching the web will give you a view of how various agencies are performing.
However it’s important to remember agencies usually have separate selling and letting teams. This means your understanding of the performance of a letting agent, may become clouded by their performance in selling houses.
If an estate agent is good at selling, it’s not true that they will also be good at letting.
FINDING THE BEST LETTING AGENT THROUGH ONLINE FORUMS
Reading online forums are an excellent way to come to know of the best letting agents in your area.
Landlord zone, Residential Landlord Assoc and Property Forum include a variety of landlord discussion points. Some of which include praising great letting agents and bemoaning those that are not so good.
Navigating through forums can be difficult, but there are some great gems of first hand guidance.
Forums usually have strict spam and advertising policies, hunting out any user posts that are biased.
FINDING THE BEST LETTING AGENT BY WORD OF MOUTH
If you have a wide network of other landlords, their experience can be extremely helpful. As the old saying goes, bad news travels fast.
If there is a letting agent or property manager not providing their landlords with the service they deserve, people talk.
2. WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN YOUR LETTING AGENT
Once you’ve scanned the market & determined what services you need, the next step is picking your letting agent.
There are numerous factors to look at when picking an agent. Some factors will be at the top of the list for some landlords and lower on the list for others. Its dependent on your own situation & property.
Below we cover what things you should look for in a letting agent and what topics you make sure you do your due diligence on
LETTING AGENTS THAT ARE REGULATED
Whether looking for a new bank, plumber, builder or even a hairdresser, compliance to regulations is a key indicator to a service providers quality.
There are many regulatory bodies in the letting industry. One of which is each agent should be part of a government-approved letting agency redress scheme.
Partnering with a letting agent who are part of one of the schemes, points to an acceptable code of conduct and adherence to the letting industries regulator requirements.
Searching to get the best letting agent using Rentround not only shows you letting agent fees & performance in your area, but landlords also get to see which schemes a letting agent is part of.
Some examples of regulations a letting agent should cover are:
Tenant Fees Act:
There are now a number of fees that can no longer be charged to tenants. The agent or landlord must now cover these sorts of costs themselves.
The tenant fee ban if not adhered to correctly, can result in fines up to £5k for a 1st offence and £30k for further breaches.
Mandatory Client Money Protection:
Rules have been extended to letting agents to ensure they are part of a client money protection scheme.
These schemes ensures landlords & renters money is protected. This protection includes money safeguarding measures & complaints procedures are in place.
Letting agents need to display what scheme they are part of on their shop floor & website.
Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards
Landlords and agents cannot let to new tenants unless the property has an EPC rating of E or better.
These means agents must ensure they have inspection procedures to cover this new regulation.
For properties falling below this rating, landlords are expected to pay for improvement works.
Letting agents need to be signed up to a government backed redress scheme.
A scheme will show that the agent abides by certain practices & codes or conduct.
The scheme the agent is a part of needs to be displayed on the letting agents website & their shop floor if applicable.
WHERE & HOW DOES THE LETTING AGENT ADVERTISE?
Where the letting agent advertises is critical. You want your agent to be on the best portals to find you tenants quicker.
How they advertise is also important. Will they be explaining the benefits of your property good enough and are they pushing as much as they can to get your property let quickly?
Rightmove & Zoopla
The supply line for finding tenants are these two big players. If your perspective agent doesn’t have a big presence on these two portals, it may be worth looking elsewhere.
If a tenant searches “find a place to rent”, these 2 portals will be at the top of Google searches. As a result, they have the most traffic.
Agents are also likely to advertise on other portals such as On The Market, Prime Location & their own portals as well.
The best letting agents have excellent response rates
When looking for the best letting agent, their responsiveness to your queries is essential.
There’s no point having the best adverts if leads are followed up on by your letting agent.
If even before you have signed up to a particular letting agents service you’re experience delays, you can only expect that to get worse once they have your business (after all, at this point the large part of the money is already in the bank for them).
If the letting agent isn’t quick before they’ve got your property, it won’t be any quicker after.
We’ve all been surfing the web being nosy in regards to what properties are on offer in our areas. Nothing is more annoying than missing floor plans, poor quality pictures or a lack of detail about the property.
If your potential letting agent is a culprit, regular posting poor postings on Zoopla & Right Move, then that’s a signal to avoid.
A neat and clear website indicates a professional company, this is a basic necessity.
Without such a website in place, you have to ask if the company can’t make a good first impression on the internet, how good can the company really be?
How a letting agent manages tenants is an indicator to how successful your property will be managed.
You will want to ensure you have the right to reject tenants and have references in place before any agreements in place.
For some agents, they quest to fill a property as quickly as possible with the goal, without consideration to the type of tenant that is found.
It’s your property and £100,000’s spent, so you will want to ensure the person living in the property is going to respect the premises and work well with other tenants, should you have them already in other rooms of the property.
Type of tenant
If a letting agent doesn’t ask what type of tenant you’re looking for, that’s a serious warning signal.
Other rooms in your property may be filled with professionals going to bed early every night.
If the letting agent fills the property with a fun loving, party animal student, you could have a mutiny on your hands!
Letting Agent Availability for tenants
How often a letting agent is available is another pointer to finding the best letting agent.
Firstly, for your queries, you want to be able to make contact over evenings and weekends.
Then you have to look at it from a tenant’s perspective. Tenants move quickly. So if your letting agent isn’t offering competitive opening times as compared to competitors, you’re at risk of missing out on inquiries.
Once a tenant moves in, you’ll want the tenant to be able to reach the agent easily. If the tenant can’t get issues fixed & queries responded to quickly, this may result in the tenant becoming unhappy. An unhappy tenant is unlikely to want to stay.
YEARS IN THE INDUSTRY
When trying to find the best letting agent for your property, years established can be a tricky method of establishing the quality of a letting agent’s service.
Many years in the industry can point to a strong foothold in the market with a wealth of knowledge.
Alternatively, a newly established letting agent could imply a fresh look on letting services, streamlining old processes to become more cost efficient and therefore offer more competitive prices.
We certainly seeing that in the online letting agent movement, with extremely low fixed prices now on offer.
The above is why it’s key to also factor in letting agent ratings.
On Rentround, ratings are assigned per letting agent based on a host of sources, Trust Pilot, Google, All Agents and so on.
3. LETTING AGENT FEES
The fees letting agents charge is important to keep your investment in a healthy profit. Fees an agent charges to landlords will vary depending on location & the services needed.
Below are a few things landlords should consider and expect when it comes to letting agent fees.
COSTS IN THE SMALL PRINT
We’ve all been suckered into a decently priced service, to later find a list of add on fees being thrown your way (making the sole reason you picked the cheapest service obsolete!)
Luckily under the Consumer Rights Act 2015, agents must prominently display a list of their fees at each of their offices as well as on their website.
Hence a breakdown of fees & potential charges are helping landlords understand what to expect.
A common hindrance to landlords is the tenancy renewal fee.
If a letting agent has charged you £X amount to find a tenant, then after 12 months, you could be left paying the exact same amount, just to renew documentation, even though it’s the same tenant.
TERMS & CONDITIONS
This is the paperwork between a landlord & the letting agency. It’s usually full of legal wording which won’t make much sense to the average person.
The key item to look out for is exit stipulations. Landlords can be subjected to heavy fees if they decide to disengage with the letting agent early. Ensure you clarify what the fees are if you decide you know longer want to work with the agent.
This can get even more complicated if you have a tenant a letting agent found for you, currently in your property.
FEES FOR SERVICES
The fees a letting agent charges should be fair.
Of course fees for simply finding a tenant will be a lot less than fees for fully managing a property.
Some letting agents charge a % of the monthly rent while some charge a fixed fee.
In general, for finding a tenant, you can expect to be charged 5-10% of monthly rent, 100% of the first months rent of a fixed fee under £500.
For fully managed services, costs will range between 13-20% for monthly rent based charges. For fixed fee services, charges will be between £100-£300 a month.
We highly recommend you use our letting agent fee comparison tool. It’s completely free to search and takes 30 seconds. With this tool, landlords can pinpoint letting agent fees in the exact area their property is based.
PACKAGES ON OFFER
Another tip on how to find the best letting agent for your property and finding your way through their fees is the types of packages on offer. Packages indicate letting agents are able to adapt to differing needs of different landlords, a strong indicator to a good letting agent.
Some landlords are happy to collect rent and fix properties themselves, whereas others may want to completely hands off approach.
Plus there’s the essentials landlords need in place with their tenants, certificates, legal documentation, inventory taking as examples.
If a letting agent is restrictive in terms of the services & essentials on offer, it indicates a lack of know how across landlord needs and the market.
NON-REFUNDABLE TENANT-FIND FEE
Fancy paying an agent even if they don’t find a tenant for you? Me neither.
You should be careful that some agents offering fixed price services may take payment upfront.
Therefore should they be unable to find you a tenant within a certain time frame, you’ll still have to pay.
Even worse, you’ll need to pay again for the next period should you continue to need their services to find a tenant.
Savvy landlords will always be looking for promotional offers.
Letting agents often offer discounts on multiple rooms & properties, deals on insurances & some services for free if rent is over a higher amount.
Make sure when you’re picking the best letting agent you’re taking advantage of these cost cutting opportunities.
We hope our tips on how to find the best letting agent have helped! Remember, to compare letting agent fees & performance, Rentround offers free searches for landlords.
Just type in your property postcode below & you’re on your way to finding the best letting agent for your property.
FEES: BASED ON RENT COLLECTED OR RENT DUE?
How the fees will be charged can result in you being out of pocket.
If the letting agents fees are based on rent due, then the fees will be based on the rent stipulated in the tenancy agreement.
If a tenant doesn’t pay in full, the fees to the landlord will still be the same. Letting agent fees based on rent collected is far more favourable to landlords. So if a tenant is short on rent, the fees to be paid by the landlord will be adjusted.
Paying fees based on rent collected encourages the agent to try harder to collect rent (as their income is dependent on it).
In addition, background checks on potential tenants will be run more thoroughly under a rent collected price model. Agents are more inclined to check that a tenant has no adverse credit history and is more likely to pay rent on time.
4. ONLINE OR HIGH STREET AGENT?
To find a letting agent that suits you, you’ll need to decide whether to go for an online letting agent or traditional letting agent.
More & more online letting agents have formed in recent years, with the acceleration of technology impacting the property industry.
Landlords are now able to sign up with an online letting agent from the comfort of their own home. In addition, properties can be listed on the major property portals in a matter of hours.
When looking at picking an online letting agent, there are many advantages as well as drawbacks.
ONLINE LETTING AGENT FEES
Fees online letting agents charge are substantially lower than the bigger, traditional high street agents.
This is especially the case if you’re simply trying to find a tenant & get the initial setup completed.
An online letting agent will be able to get your property listed on the major portals, allowing you to coordinate the viewings yourself.
This avoids any ongoing fees during the tenancy, that a traditional letting agent may charge.
DOING MORE OF THE WORK AS A LANDLORD
In exchange for the lower agent fees, a you’ll need to do more of the work.
For example conducting viewings isn’t part of the usual online letting agent package.
This is fine for the less busier landlords, but may not be ideal if you have’t got the time. For example you may be at work while potential tenants want to visit the property.
Furthermore you may not be comfortable doing some of the tasks. Rent collecting can result in difficult conversations when it’s not paid in full. Viewings can also be tricky if potential tenants are asking hard questions.
TRADITIONAL LETTING AGENT STABILITY
There are a whole load of online letting agents starting up. Landlords have a wider choice of agents as compared to a few years ago.
With so many new companies, it’s difficult to know which ones will last.
If you’re enticed by the fees of an online agent, you need to be sure that they’ll last.
If they are collecting your rent, holding your deposit and are storing your key documents, them going bust will cause you a world of pain.
Recently UPAD & Purplebricks, two of the bigger players in the online letting agent market, faced issues. UPAD was bought out by another online agent. While Purplebricks faces scrutiny on its business model and financial objectives on a regular basis.
For risk adverse landlords, there may be too much uncertainty going for an online agent. Therefore it may be best to stick with traditional agents who have been in the market longer.
When things go wrong
Inevitably things go wrong with properties & tenants. Your property may become damaged or tenants fall out with each other. For some landlords, popping by to the property to resolve issues might not be a big deal.
But for busy landlords, this may be a problem. In which case, a letting agent who’s able to attend the property is a god send.
However with the nature of an online agent, they may not have people on the ground. Or sending someone to the property may incur an additional charge.
Ensure you’re fully aware of what happens when things go wrong with your property and how your online letting agent will help.
5. CHOOSING YOUR LETTING AGENT VIA RENTROUND
We at Rentround specialise in the rental market and compare only letting agents.
Our rating system considers information from all review sites. We then do an assessment based on the size of the company in comparison to the volume of reviews each has.
We ensure ratings are accurate so landlords are empowered to compare letting agents & property managers and make the best decision.
Critically we provide you with a clear breakdown of letting agent fees, performance and their proximity to your property.
The best thing is, if you find the best letting agent through Rentround, it’s completely free! Try using the search function below and see how you do
Determining who’s the best letting agent is what we do!
Finding the best letting agent FAQ
How do I choose a letting agent?
Fees & service levels vary across letting agents, therefore its important landlord compare different letting agents. Landlords can use a letting agent comparison tool on Rentround for free. All landlords need to do is enter their postcode and a few details about their property. Rentround then shows fees, ratings, locations & services of letting agents in the area.
Should I use a letting agent?
Letting agents are perfect for those that do not have the time or expertise to run a rental property. Letting agents can take on most of the tasks associated with renting a property out. These include collecting rent, finding tenants, repairs and tenancy agreements.
What are letting agents responsible for?
What a letting agent does for you is dependent on the services you choose. The most basic package is simply finding a tenant for your rental property. More in depth services such as full management, leaves the landlord mostly hands off on managing the property, while the letting agent does most tasks.
Which letting agent is the best?
The best letting agent for your property depends on your area, services you need and how much you are willing to spend. Some agents are better than others at quickly finding tenants, while others may take longer to find tenants, but have lower tenant finder fees. Enter your postcode in our letting agent comparison tool to find the best letting agent for your property
What is the difference between a letting agent and an estate agent
A letting agent focuses on the rental aspect of the property industry. This includes finding tenants places to live and managing properties for landlords. An estate agent is focused on the buy/sell side. Their most important job is finding buyers for properties on the market.
What do letting agents do?
A common list of letting agent tasks are: 1. Finding tenants. 2. Setting rent amounts 3. Taking deposits 4. Completing tenancy agreements 5. Collecting rent 6. Running repair work 7. Conducting property inspections 8. Replacing vacating tenants