If you've bought a property as an investment you may not have time to manage it by yourself. That means you will need to find a letting agent.
When it comes to letting agents, like any trade, you will get good and bad businesses.
When choosing to deal with a company that has this much control over your investments and general stress levels however, it is important to know what to look out for.
A good letting agent will also remind you to buy a landlord insurance policy that is right for you.
A good sized portfolio
A healthy letting agent is one with a decent sized portfolio.
Industry experts suggest that it is a good sign if an agent has 100 or more properties on its books with a good selection available to let at any one time.
It is also an encouraging sign if the agent rents out its own properties too as they will be more likely to understand your needs as a landlord.
Member of an accreditation scheme
A letting agent should be a member of some form of trade association to prove they are accountable.
So make sure the agent you choose is a member of an association, such as The Property Ombudsman, the Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA) or the National Landlords Association (NLA).
Tradesman support network
Flats and houses go wrong.
Things break, roof parts fall off, water appears where water should not be and so on.
A letting agent should have a strong and professional network of tradesmen that they can call out and rely on.
Good word of mouth
It's the simplest metric to measure anything by, but still applies to letting agents.
If you can, ask other landlords or even tenants in the area to source opinion about a particular company.
Smooth running of tenancy
If you have chosen a letting agent, make sure that they are doing all the things they say they should be.
This includes performing inventories and regular checks of properties.
It is important that your agent gets in there on a regular basis to make sure nothing untoward is going on.
Sometimes estate agents branch out into letting properties in an attempt to shore up their cash flow.
Unfortunately, many are ill equipped to deal with the particular responsibilities of a letting agent and have little experience in dealing with your needs as a landlord.
The recommended minimum amount of experience to look for is around the five year mark for a letting agent.
No retail premises
If a letting agent is operating from a kitchen table at home, it doesn’t necessarily mean it is a terrible company as everyone has to start somewhere.
It doesn't inspire much confidence however, and giving your custom to anyone that doesn't operate out of a retail location is a risk.
A solid high-street presence will inspire trust and acts as a good indicator for the company's credibility.
Not subscribed to a rental portal
If a letting agent isn’t subscribed to a site such as Rightmove.com, it's likely they will be missing out on a lot of extra tenants.
A huge proportion of people looking for somewhere to rent will go through such portals and the more interest you can get in your property, the more likely you are to get the tenants and the rental price you're after.
Letting out properties has the potential to reap significant financial rewards, but you want to protect yourself from falling into any deep financial traps.
Dedicated landlords insurance policies differ from residential cover in a number of ways.
For example, the maximum period the property can be left unoccupied is usually longer - 90 days for example, instead of 30.
You can also opt for cover against tenants failing to pay their rent, and for insurance against any emergency maintenance issues that could arise, such as a boiler breakdown.
It is also worth adding legal cover, to protect you against any claims arising from accidents suffered by tenants, or to pay the cost of any legal disputes with tenants.