“You would expect me to say that. But let’s be honest,’’ says award-winning Luke Gidney of Let-Leeds, “the figures back it up: £2.1 billion is being lost through vacant properties, tenant arrears and unexpected maintenance costs.
“An accredited study found that 84% of landlords do not receive as much money as anticipated through their monthly rental income.
“So let’s not avoid talking about the void periods. Nearly half the landlords surveyed said that they received no rental income for up to three months a year because their property was vacant. A tenth of landlords had gone six months or more without tenants in their property.
“If landlords want to make sure they do not suffer such financial problems they have to use a letting agent. Many property owners would, quite obviously, like to do it all themselves and make sure that all the money goes to them rather than paying an agent. But the right letting agent can make sure that a property is let at all times; which means rent coming in every month.
“The key is to use a pro-active agent who will:
- Market the property before the current tenancy expires.
- Ensure the property is properly maintained so that the property can be re-let immediately. Regular inspections by an agent are crucial to ensure the property remains attractive to potential new tenants.
- Make it their business to have the property clean, safe and meeting all regulations.
- Keep in touch with tenants on a regular basis, so that action can be taken once it is known that they plan to leave. Only by doing this can the problem of voids be addressed.
“The study also found that more than one in two tenants has been late with their rental payments. Tenant arrears are a massive concern for landlords. Only proper management of a property can reduce the risk of rent not being paid.
“A letting agency with professional software and systems in place will act fast on tenancy arrears and employ a firm but fair, systematic policy so that tenants know their obligations to pay on time. They can take such an approach because they are professional and make it their duty to minimise arrears, whereas many landlords find the issue awkward to handle.
“Landlords do not want to be called out to a property four or five times a year because of problems. But managing properties is an on-going responsibility and requires constant involvement. The dreaded call on Christmas Day about a malfunctioning boiler, the tenant that falls down the stairs, making sure the property meets all legal safety requirements – these are all possibilities that emphasise the need for a 24/7 maintenance department and emergency out-of-hours contact. When you bear this in mind, letting agency fees are a small price to pay for peace of mind. After all, what landlord can honestly say that they can provide such a service?
“A professional letting agent with staff trained up regarding current legislation can help a landlord cut costs, meet all legal requirements and maximise the rental potential of their property – without the landlord having to be hands on. When all this is considered, paying a fee to a professional, well-regarded letting agent can be the best investment a landlord can make.’’
Luke Gidney is Director of Let-Leeds and Let-York.
Let-Leeds was named Northern Lettings Agency of the Year Silver Award (Single Office) winner in The Times and The Sunday Times 2012 UK-wide awards.
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