Letting out your property is a serious business and selecting the right agent can make the difference between a trouble-free profitable investment and a time-consuming headache that causes as many problems as it saves.
We've researched some of the most important questions that all landlords should ask potential letting agents before choosing which individuals or organisations to instruct. We have also answered these five questions ourselves as best we can:
(1) What Is Your Average Void Period?
For a Landlord wishing to show a good return on their investment, this is clearly an important question in their choice of letting agent. As a guide, our answer is that our average void period is less than one week per year. Additionally, most of our tenants ask to renew - staying on average for three years or more and thereby delivering a consistent income for our landlords.
(2) What Percentage Of Tenants Deposits Are Returned In Full?
This is an important question because a deposit returned in full implies that the tenants have taken greater care of the landlord's property during the tenancy. It also shows that the letting agent is reputable and has not penalised the tenant unfairly.
At Nicholas Jones Residential, we hold pre-check out meetings to help your tenants reclaim their full deposit. Unfortunately, accidents do happen and inevitably there is occasionally some accidental damage. Whilst this prevents our answer from being 100%, we do actually come pretty close to that figure. Our Facebook and Google Plus reviews from very happy tenants back up this point.
(3) Do You Take Commissions From Contractors?
Whilst there are agents that do charge commission on contractors' invoices, we do not. We are paid a fair amount for our services by our landlords and therefore we owe them a duty of care when looking after their property. This means we hire the most cost-effective contractors, not necessarily the cheapest but the ones who demonstrate the best value for carrying out the specific maintenance tasks. We have no financial interest in these transactions and we regularly review our contractors for both competitive price and quality of their work.
(4) Are You A Landlord Yourself?
It can be reassuring to know that the person you are entrusting the management of possibly your most expensive asset has the experience and knowledge of what is required to be a landlord and understands the necessity for cost effective property management and how to look after a property.
Our answer is yes, we have been landlords for 15 years, we understand the complexities and the benefits of keeping tenants happy. We only use contractors that we ourselves would be happy to use and we put forward tenants on the basis that we would be happy to rent to them. We also experience the same changes in government legislation, so naturally will always look at ways to help advise our clients to make the best decisions to make their portfolio work based on our own experiences.
(5) What Professional Qualifications Do You Have That Make You Suitable As A Lettings Agent?
Our response is that both qualifications AND experience are important. Nick Jones has worked in the lettings industry for over 20 years so knows the market very well. He has been a fellow grade member of ARLA Propertymark (the Association of Residential Letting Agents) for over 15 years. He is also a member of the NAEA (National Association of Estate Agents) and Nicholas Jones Residential is licenced by both trade organisations. We are members of The Ombudsmen Scheme (Property) and are also the preferred Lettings Agent partner for the Oxfordshire PIN (Property Investors Network)
We hope these five questions will help you when choosing a lettings agent to look after your property and lettings portfolio properly. We also believe that our answers demonstrate that we are suitably qualified to meet the needs of today's landlords and exceed your business expectations and that we have the knowledge and experience to advise you appropriately on the letting and management of your property.