Employing a letting agent can be a real hit or miss experience for landlords. What landlords really need to do is go very carefully through the contract before appointing a letting agent to let or manage one of their buy-to-let properties.
Here is a list of points provided by the NFRL to look out for when going through a letting agents contract that should be clarified and agreed before a landlord signs.
• Look for a clear statement outlining how the contract may be ended by either party. I would not recommend that landlords enter into an agreement that locks them into paying the agent for as long as the tenant stays.
• Marketing of the property. Is there a limit to the amount of advertising undertaken?
• Fee structure, including any extra charges.
• Tenancy deposits; how will they be held (in a separate account?) and returned and who will the interest be paid to?
• What is their procedure for tenant selection and referencing? Will the landlord be able to have a copy of these
• How and when will the property be inspected?
• How and when will the agent provide a report and/or a statement of accounts.
• Procedure and time scale for transfer of rental receipts – watch out for delays.
• How quickly will you be notified if the tenant does not pay the rent, or if a large sum of money will be deducted for a
repair? Even a slight delay may have a knock on effect causing the landlord to fall into mortgage arrears.
• Tax Payments for overseas landlords.
• Procedure for dealing with minor repairs and limits on expenditure allowed with further authority.
• Arrangements for inventory checking.
• Arrangements for forwarding mail.
• Procedure for dealing with Rent Assessment committee hearings.
• Procedure for dealing with local authority notices, including registration of houses in multiple occupation.
• Procedure for dealing with gas inspections.
• Measures to ensure electrical safety.
• Arrangements for cleaning and redecorating when necessary between lets.
• Procedure for arranging transfer of utilities, telephones and council tax liabilities.
• Agents involvement in any litigation that might arise between landlords and tenant (recovery of rent arrears or possession).