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Thinking of changing letting agents?
It will probably come as no surprise that many landlords put off changing letting agents until they feel there is no other choice. Interestingly, there is a common misconception that as a landlord you must wait until the end of a tenancy to switch your letting agent. However, the truth is very different.
If you are one of the many landlords that have become disillusioned with your letting agent, our latest article will almost certainly help.
Here you can discover what we have found to be the very real frustrations of landlords as an independent letting agent in Nottingham managing over 500 properties. Following extensive research of our client’s needs when switching agents, we uncover the four most important reasons why our landlords decided to change agents. We also look at just how easy it is to rectify this situation should you find yourself at the mercy of a weak letting agent.
What we have discovered as independent letting agents
In our experience there are 4 reasons why landlords find themselves wanting to change letting agents:
- Unhappy with overall service received
- Expensive or unexpected maintenance charges cropping up
- Property remaining empty for long periods between tenancies
- Poor communication
You deserve more than this. After all, your rental property is likely to be one of the largest investments you will ever make. It should be treated with the utmost of care from a team focussed only on property management.
The problem with estate agents that also provide lettings & property management services
Unfortunately, the vast majority of letting agents have been built on the back of high street estate agents wanting to build a second income from managing properties. This usually happens when house sales have slowed down due to a significant change in the wider economy. Whilst this may seem like a good business strategy for the agent, all too often general estate agents provide a lacklustre performance when it comes to managing landlord properties.
The truth is that mainstream estate agents tend to focus most of their attention on their sales pipeline as this provides a larger, more immediate income when times are good. And it is only when times turn bad, sales agents typically turn their minds once again to their lettings arm. And so, the cycle repeats. This problem is compounded by some of the largest agents where landlords often feel they are simply treated as a number in a good number of cases being passed from pillar to post. The net result is landlords then find themselves changing letting agents.
We have found that general estate agents tend not to focus on building the processes that are vital to a well organised lettings business. Managing rental property requires a very real discipline. A good letting agent will have all the systems and processes in place to ensure that your property investment performs on target and importantly, meets all of the current landlord regulations from a compliance perspective.
What to expect from a great letting agent
In reality, the best letting agents tend to be independently owned businesses, that is to say they do not form part of a larger group. Think about it like this. If a large property management company is managing 1000’s of properties via multiple offices reporting into one big head office, is their service going to be focussed on getting the best results for you? The answer is – probably not.
Again, our experience tells us that landlords like to deal with smaller lettings businesses that care deeply about the service they provide. This goes for landlords with one property as well as seasoned investors with substantial portfolios.
The best agents tend to operate from one office only, keeping all communication under one roof. And most importantly, they only offer a lettings and property management service. In short, they live or die by the success of their lettings business alone. They do not have a sales arm.
How to change letting agents in 5 Easy Steps
Changing letting agents is quick and relatively straightforward. What’s more you’re free to do so at any time despite what some may tell you. It is merely a matter of making the decision to go ahead and then informing your current agent of your plans for changing your letting agent.
1. Give notice to your current letting agent
This is the only step you must take personally and can be done by telephone or email. However, we always recommend calling your agent first and then following this up in writing so that you have a record.
Check on the notice period stipulated within the terms of business you will have signed. In most cases this will be 3 months but sometimes it is less. If there appears to be an unfair clause in your contract stating a much longer notice period, there is a good chance this would be classed as unfair in the eyes of consumer law. You may want to discuss this with a friendly solicitor.
Has there been a breach of contract on your agent’s part?
If you feel your current letting agent has not been fulfilling their obligations under the terms of your signed agreement, you may have reason to inform them that they are in breach of contract and wish to negotiate to bring your agreement to an end earlier.
A typical example of a material breach of contract could be your letting agent not having carried out periodic property inspections as often (or at all) in line with their signed terms. Inspections on landlord properties are the one thing we regularly hear of letting agents not performing as often as their agreement stipulates. If this is the case, under consumer law you should give your current agent notice of the breach and allow them 30 days to put things right. However, if there are several similar breaches that have occurred over time and you are able to evidence this, you could inform them that they have now breached a duty of care to you as well as their contractual duties. This could be all you need to do to force an early termination of your signed agreement leaving you free to switch letting agents earlier.
2. New letting agent contacts previous letting agent to request information
Your new agent will contact your current agent and ask for copies of all safety certificates, tenant’s names and contact details, any inventory and all property specific documents such as warranties and guarantees. This is so that your new agent can build a thorough picture of your individual property and add all details to their management system ready for changeover day.
3. Changeover day
Your new agent will collect master keys from your previous agent as well as all original tenancy documents including any deposit registration information.
4. New agent establishes contact with tenants
Vital to any new relationship is the introduction. Your new agent will introduce themselves to your tenants, serve the relevant legal paperwork and suggest a date to meet at the property. At the same time, they will carry out the first detailed inspection allowing your tenants to highlight any concerns or need for maintenance and repairs so that these can be resolved quickly.
5. New agent sends landlord first detailed inspection report
Having met with your tenants at the property, your new agent will email you a detailed inspection report that will include:
1. Photographs of all rooms
2. Details of any outstanding maintenance and
3. Confirmation of any areas that could be improved upon to keep your property in a well-maintained order. Your property will then be inspected every six months unless there is any cause for concern, in which case the property will be inspected as many times as required until all issues are rectified.
What Slater & Brandley can offer as your New letting agent
We believe our business is uniquely positioned in the way that we operate having gone out of our way to make it such.
3 Unique Selling Points that set Slater & Brandley apart
- Our business is built purely with landlords and tenants in mind as we operate only in lettings and property management. As such, we live or die by the success of our lettings business. This keeps our team focussed and without distractions.
- We offer a single point of contact for landlords with a dedicated Property Manager. This means no more mixed messages but instead a quick path to resolving issues and the ability to build a successful and productive relationship with us over the long-term.
- With 98% of all maintenance and repairs carried out by our own in-house maintenance team, we can prioritise workloads and react to any emergency that arises. As a result, our work is completed both efficiently and as cost effectively as possible, without compromising on quality.
Of course, unique selling points only point out the biggest differences that we offer landlords when changing letting agents. There is a lot more that happens behind the scenes to make us what we are. It is our people that we are particularly proud of and that make our Award-Winning service so difficult for our competition to replicate.
Discover what our clients think of us
If you have become dissatisfied with your current agent and are considering changing letting agents take a look at some of our many hard earnt 800+ Google Reviews. Here you can find out what really sets us apart from our competitors. Our reviews not only tell you what our landlords think of us but our tenants too.
Thinking of changing letting agents as soon as possible?
Give us a call today on 0115 981 9651 and one of our team will be more than happy to demonstrate how we can help you stop worrying over the day to day management of your property and spend more time doing the things you really enjoy.
Frequently asked questions
How much notice do I have to give my current letting agent?
Letting agent terms of business usually specify a 3 month notice period. You will need to give your current agent formal notice that you plan to end your agreement with them to bring this to an end.
Can I change letting agent easily?
Yes, you are free to switch letting agents at any time. How long it takes to move agents will generally be dictated by the notice period in the signed agreement you hold with your current letting agent. However, if your current agent is in material breach of contract because of failing to deliver on their signed terms, you may be able to switch agents sooner than the specified notice period by some negotiation.
Can you change letting agent mid tenancy?
Yes, it is standard practice to switch letting agents. In fact, this is often the best time to change agents as it means there is not the added complication of needing to find new tenants at the same time.
Are there any issues I need to consider when changing letting agent?
The main point to consider is which letting agent you are going to switch to. It pays to spend some time carrying out a good deal of research. Only once you have a new agent in mind and have agreed terms with them would we suggest you let your current agent know that you are moving your property management.
Will it cost me anything to change letting agent?
Provided you follow the terms set out in your current agent’s terms of business there should be no cost in changing letting agents if you have tenants in place. Some agents do have onerous terms in their agreements such as trying to make charges for continuing a let without them but with tenants they have found for you originally. A lot of these types of terms are deemed unfair from a consumer law point of view. If you do come across restrictive terms, we would suggest that you speak with a solicitor to check your position before switching agents just to be on the safe side.
Note that if you do need to find new tenants, there will more than likely be a cost for the tenant find aspect of setting up the new agreement.
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