Are you a landlord in need? While property investing seems like a lucrative way to make passive income, it’s often more involved and stressful than most people realize. One way to make money without the added hassle is to hire a letting agent.
Experienced agents can help advertise your property, find and reference tenants, and keep you compliant from start to finish. Most agencies offer various services and packages at different prices so you only pay for what you need.
One such online letting agency in the UK is Upad. The online letting agency has secured over 40,000 letting agreements and helped over 15,000 landlords. But how does this UK letting agency stack up against the rest? Let’s take a look.
First launched in 2007, Upad has grown to become one of the UK’s largest online letting agencies, taking other online agencies such as Purplebricks & LettingaProperty head on. But size doesn’t always matter when discussing a letting agency. Landlords need experienced, knowledgeable agents to secure them the best deal.
Upad prides itself on offering a simpler, more cost-efficient way of doing business compared to most other online companies and local high street agents. Upad also offers both local and national services.
The company claims that economies of scale are what allow them to offer such low prices and cost savings. Upad agents are available seven days a week to answer questions, field inquiries and handle any issues that arise. The website also has a customer portal for landlords to access at their convenience.
In 2017, Upad won the Letting Agent Gold Award for Best Online Agent.
What are online agents?
Online agents are usually deemed the ‘cheaper’ alternatives to traditional agents.
With usually no person on the ground, landlords are expected to get more hands on, for example, conducting their own viewings and collecting deposits/rent. Online agents will then support these tasks through various online tools.
To find your ideal estate or letting agent, whether it be traditional or online, run an agent comparison on Rentround for free.
How Upad Works
From advertising to finding and referencing tenants to rent collection, Upad offers a myriad of services for landlords. Here’s a look at your options.
Advertise Your Property
Upad helps you create and fine-tune your property listing before listing it on the main UK property portals and websites including Prime Location, Zoopla, and Rightmove.
Landlords can choose from a basic, bare-bones listing to one that includes floor plans, featured listings, and premium listings.
This is one of the most time-consuming parts of being a landlord. Once your listing hits the Internet, you’ll (hopefully) be flooded with inquiries, questions, and viewing requests. If you don’t have time to manage these, Upad will.
But you’ll still see all responses and inquiries in your personal Upad dashboard. Here, you can communicate with prospective tenants and schedule viewings. It’s important to note that Upad agents don’t schedule or conduct viewings. These arrangements are made between the landlord and tenant directly through the Upad dashboard.
Once you’ve decided on a tenant, Upad takes care of referencing. This includes a credit check to ensure they can afford whatever you set the rent at. Upad agents will also contact references and previous landlords if needed.
Set Up the Tenancy
Now that the referencing is done, it’s time to start the tenancy agreement. Upad will draft and verify all paperwork and ensure that the tenancy agreement is ARLA Propertymark-approved. For your convenience, all of the paperwork is signed electronically.
Collecting a Deposit and Staying Compliant
Once the contracts are signed, a Upad agent will collect them and register the tenant’s deposit with a government-approved scheme. As required by law, this must be done within 30 days of collection.
Upad ensures that landlords follow all the necessary laws and guidelines that regulate landlords in the UK. This includes the Prescribed Information, How to Rent Guide, and other required certificates. All of this information is consolidated into one document for your tenants.
Upad agents collect the first month’s rent and ensure that the landlord receives it. If you choose, a standing order will be established so that you receive your rent at the same time each month.
Upad’s mission is to offer both landlords and tenants peace of mind knowing that everything is in order, compliant, and done on time.
Upad Products, Packages, and Pricing
The above steps are a basic overview of what Upad agents do and in what order. But what most landlords want to know is, “How much will it cost?”. Let’s take a look at some of Upad’s most popular products and prices.
The most basic Upad package is UChoose. For £149, you can get advertising services on some of the main property portals including Zoopla, Rightmove, and Prime Location. From there, landlords can pick the level of support they want and need.
The next available plan is best if you’re a landlord who wants help with the tenant process. For £289, your listing will appear on the above-mentioned portals and you’ll also get help setting up the tenancy.
UPay on Success
Some landlords prefer to only pay when the promised results are delivered. If this describes you, then Upay on Success may be the best package. You pay nothing upfront but are required to pay £449 when your Upad agent finds and secures you a tenant. Landlords receive fully letting services and only pay this amount once the agreement is signed.
Regardless of which package you select, the steps to get started are the same.
- Create an account and enter all the property details
- A designated letting agent will review the information
- You can now access your account from the Upad dashboard where you can monitor progress, make changes, and see how well your listing is performing
- Most tenant inquiries come in within the first 48 hours so be ready!
- Upad agents are constantly monitoring and checking listings to avoid missed opportunities and find you the right tenant, fast
- Upad agents take care of all the necessary paperwork and contracts to ensure you’re compliant and secure all required signatures electronically
Additional Services and Fees
In addition to the packages offered by Upad, landlords can also purchase individual or add-on services, of course these will add to the letting agent fees a landlord needs to pay. These include:
Fully Managed Services
For accidental landlords, property investors, and those who simply don’t have the time or knowledge to manage a rental property, Upad offers fully managed services. According to the website, Upad saves landlords an average of £2,000 when using this service. But, just know, that it’ll cost you £599 upfront and an additional £72 per month.
Multiple Advertising Pack
Are you a landlord or investor looking to let more than one property? Then this multiple advertising pack is the best deal. For £149 per property, you can save up to 38% on advertising more than one property with Upad.
Rooms MAPs and Rooms
Similar to the above service, Rooms MAPs saves landlords who are advertising multiple rooms. This is especially useful for owners of an HMO (house in multiple occupation). You also receive advertising credits that never expire so you can use them at any time. This service will run you £69. If you’re only advertising one room, you can expect to pay £60.
Upad does offer some services for commercial property owners as well. According to the website, it’s the only online letting agency that offers Rightmove Commercial Listings for £239.
This is one of the most important and popular services that landlords hire a letting agency for. Finding and referencing tenants can be daunting if you don’t know what you’re looking for. For £75, Upad will make sure the tenant you’ve selected isn’t too good to be true. Just note that tenant referencing is currently unavailable in Scotland.
Landlord Referral Scheme
Are you a landlord that knows other landlords that may benefit from Upad’s services? If so, a referral could earn you £149. This is how it works. You share a referral link with your colleagues and they’ll receive £149 off the UChoose Plus package. Once they sign up, you’ll be notified and receive £149 off certain services including UChoose, UChoose Plus, and fully managed services.
Advertising Enhancement Options
For some landlords, advertising is the most important (and the only) service they need. If you want to invest most of your money and efforts into advertising, here are your options on Upad.
- Photography – Add professional photos to your listing and get 8 times the inquiries for £89.
- Floor Plan – For £99 you can get a professionally designed floor plan and attract over 50% more inquiries.
- Rightmove Featured Listing – This upgrade option can help you garner 40% more viewings by appearing at the top of the Rightmove search results page for one week. This add-on will cost you £150.
- Rightmove Premium Listing – Premium Listings on Rightmove get an average of 33% more viewings than a standard listing and will cost you £90.
Staying compliant means staying in business and on the right side of the law. Don’t risk your income or your reputation. Instead, consider some of these compliance upgrades and services offered by Upad.
- Inventory – If you plan to let out your property fully furnished, you’ll need an inventory checklist that details all of your items and their condition. Upad has fully-qualified inventory clerks that will visit your property in person and draft an inventory list and a condition report. This service will cost you £129.
- Tenant Sign-Up – Landlords that don’t want to bother with the paperwork process can pay £189 for an ARLA-approved bespoke tenancy agreement, deposit, first month’s rent, standing order, and deposit collection and placement in a government-approved scheme.
- 12-Month Rent Protection – For £171.99 for 12 months, you can purchase rent protection. This service protects up to £30,000 in back rent and £50,000 in legal expense coverage. Upad offers rent protection regardless of the tenant’s history.
- Gas Safety Certificate – One of the mandatory certificates every landlord must provide is for gas safety. By law, you must provide a certificate to all tenants and renew it annually. Upad can send a certified engineer to the property to check all the gas appliances to ensure they’re safe and in good use, fulfilling your obligation for £99.
- Energy Performance Certificate – An EPC is another requirement that landlords must provide all tenants and something Upad can help with. For £99, an Upad agent will evaluate the energy performance of the property for the last 10 years. These results must be displayed when advertising and showing a property.
- Legionella Risk Assessment – Another legal duty for landlords, you must assess and control the risk of exposure to legionella bacteria in any of your rental properties. This goes for entire homes, apartments, or rooms (single or multiple). Upad will take care of this for you for £150.
One downside to Upad is that many of the individual services listed above come at an additional cost to you. These same services are offered by other online letting agencies as part of a package or rolled into the price. Every service you add on, though beneficial, cuts into your bottom line.
Upad for Tenants
This online letting agency isn’t just reserved for landlords. Upad also offers services for tenants. Prospective tenants can search available properties on the website and once an offer is made, Upad will facilitate communication between the two parties.
While Upad is there for basic support and to perform the services you pay for they mostly work to match landlords with tenants and let the two parties work out the details.
Upad does offer some additional services for tenants including access to the following tools:
- Zero Deposit
These services are only available to the tenant if the landlord uses them.
Upad Reviews: The Good and the Bad
Every online letting agency will collect its fair share of both positive and negative reviews. Before signing up or committing to a paid package, it’s best to see what recent customers have to say about their experiences with Upad.
Let’s kick things off with the positives. On Trustpilot, Upad currently has 1,329 reviews and a 4.4 out of 5-star rating. On the platform, 94% of reviewers gave Upad either an “excellent” or “great” rating. Here are what some satisfied customers have to say.
- Easy to use and straightforward
- Lots of inquiries within the first few days
- Good customer service skills
- Good services for independent landlords
With just 4% of customers reporting a “poor” or “bad” experience, some of their complaints include:
- The company is driven by sales, not quality
- Lack of customer service or correspondence
- Not receiving tenant inquiries or messages on the dashboard
- Photographer was a no show
Most user complaints surround the recent service they received through Upad’s platform. The company was acquired by another popular UK agency, Howsy, in 2020. Repeat customers claim that when they used Upad in the past, the service was much better, but now that the platform is run by Howsy, the service and performance have drastically declined.
Shop Around for a Reliable Online Letting Agency
Although Upad did receive rave reviews on TrustPilot, many of these are from several years ago. As times have changed, so have Upad’s services. If you only need basic advertising, this platform might work for you. But as you add on additional services (some of which are necessary by law), you’ll quickly see your monthly expenses climb and your income decline. Shop around for a letting agency that offers the comprehensive services you need at a reasonable price point.