Letting out a property can be a complicated business, with plenty of important decisions to be made along the way. One of the biggest is which letting agent you will choose, and with so many options out there it can be hard to know where to begin. Choosing the wrong letting agent could not only have a negative impact on your experience, it could also cost you money. Find the right one, however, and life as a landlord will be made that much easier.
To help you make your decision, we’ve broken down some key issues to consider that will give you the best chance of lettings success. Here is everything you need to know about choosing the right letting agent for your property.
Be Clear About What Services You Need
Most letting agents will offer different levels of service and charge different letting agent fees. Before you start to speak to letting agents, it’s good to have an idea of what services you want to use them for and what you will deal with yourself. Do you just want help with marketing and finding tenants? Would you like them to carry out inspections and be the main point of contact? Or perhaps you’d like them to take care of everything from start to finish. There is no right or wrong answer here, as it really comes down to what works best for you. But if you go into the process knowing what you’re looking for, it will make your search for a letting agent that little bit easier.
Check Their Licence
By law, every letting agent in Ireland must have the relevant licence issued by the Property Services Regulatory Authority (PSRA). The PSRA works in the interests of the public by regulating and supervising letting agents and other property service providers. This includes investigating complaints, enforcing standards and maintaining a compensation fund. Without this licence, you have no protection, so if the agent doesn’t have one you should steer well clear. Luckily, checking the register of licensed agents can be easily done on the PSRA website.
Ask About Their Marketing
The most successful letting agents are highly proactive in finding tenants. They don’t just sit back and wait for people to call, but will contact prospective tenants on their books and make sure your property is seen by as many people as possible. Find out what internet portals they will list your property on, and what other marketing or advertising strategies they use. This is really important in the long run, as any time your property sits empty is time that you are losing money.
Ask any potential agents about the current property market in your area. If they are able to answer with confidence or, even better, tell you about comparable properties they have recently let, then it’s a good indicator that they take their job seriously and will do their best to help you find a tenant.
Ask How They Vet Potential Tenants
When you use a letting agent, you are placing the responsibility of finding a good tenant in their hands. While there are never any guarantees, you want to make sure that the agent is doing their very best to find someone who won’t let you down. Rent arrears and tenant disputes can cause huge problems down the line, so you must make sure they will be avoided at all costs.
Ask your letting agent what systems they have in place to vet any potential tenants, including what reference checks they use and when the checks will be conducted. A professional referencing service should typically include:
- An identity check
- A financial check that will highlight any financial red flags like CCJs
- A tenant risk score
- An income reference that will verify their employment status and salary
- A previous landlord reference
Compare The Fees
Letting agent fees vary greatly, with some charging fixed prices and others charging fees on a sliding scale according to the rent (usually between 6% and 10%, although they can be as high as 20%). It may be tempting to simply choose the letting agent with the lowest fees, but it’s important to consider what you will be getting for your money. It’s all well and good saving a bit of cash, but if you end up doing more of the work than you had planned for then it might not be the best choice for you.
Before you decide on a letting agent you should be crystal clear about what services are included for the price you will pay. Ask outright if there are any extra charges like renewal fees or additional one-off costs for things like your property photography. It’s always a good idea to speak to a few letting agents so that you can compare their offers to see which deal is right for you. Don’t forget to check with online agents too – you may well find that you get more for your money, as they don’t have the same overheads as their bricks-and-mortar counterparts.
What Makes Them Stand Out?
If you’ve narrowed your choice down to a couple of agents who offer similar value, ask them what makes them different from the others. It might be that they offer out-of-hours viewings that will make it easier for potential tenants to attend. It might be a quick turnaround when dealing with property maintenance issues (read our guide on whether you should renovate your rental property as well). Or it could be something that benefits you, like having your tax return included in their property management package. These services all add value to their offering and should make it easier for you to choose one agent over another.
Trust Your Gut
While there are lots of practicalities to consider, it’s important to remember the human element of letting an agent manage your property. If everything goes to plan you will be working together for a long period of time, so it’s important that you get on and that you feel that your property is in good hands. First, you should find out whether you will have a dedicated letting agent or if your enquiries will be shared amongst the team.
Think about how your communications have gone up to this point. Did the letting agent get back to you quickly when you made an enquiry? Were they helpful and engaged when you spoke? These are good indicators for not only how they will work with you, but also how they will deal with your tenants. Good customer service skills are vital in keeping tenants happy and ensuring you a steady stream of rent. If you’ve had a bad experience with an agent or something just doesn’t feel right, it’s best to trust your instincts and walk away.
Read our guide on outsourcing property management for more information.
There’s a lot to think about when it comes to choosing the right letting agent, but put in a little research and you will reap the benefits for years to come. We hope that we have offered some insight into which factors are most important when making your decision, and at SCK Property, we believe we offer some of the best lettings packages on the market.
Whether you would like a basic letting service, full property management or a complete, end-to-end service, we have options for all kinds of landlords letting property in Ireland. If you would like to find out more, please give us a call on (01) 291 0800 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will be happy to help. You may also want to check out our letting and management page as well.