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Virgin LL - Pros & Cons of Letting Agent


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Hi All

Like many I suspect, having had no 'bites' despite having my other property on the sale market for nearly a year, I have resigned to the fact that I need to rent it out in order to cover the mortgage.

My circumstances are that I have never landlorded before and I live an hour away from the property in question. With a busy life (children and disabled husband), the thought of having to manage the rental fills me with dread; hence I would be grateful for advice on whether, in my case, bringing in a Letting Agent would be the best solution.

I've browsed the websites of the local agents and can't see too much between them - they all seem to make a very healthy profit on lets but I guess that's the point of business!

All pointers would be gratefully received so that I don't end up paying out so much in fees etc that my mortgage falls short. It's been a tough 2 years and as the memories associated with the house are dire (divorce), I would have loved to have sold it and run with the profit even though many people keep telling me that keeping the asset and renting out is good long term business sense. Hence I am taking the plunge.

I hope that having it initally managed and then taking on the role myself (once I have the courage and know how) will provide some security for my family long term.

Many thanks in advance :D

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Hi Welshcakes

Many LL's on here 'go it alone' and run successful operations but there are many pitfalls so be wary if you have little or no experience. There are many things that can catch you out but as always there's plenty of advice on here and other forums where you can pick up hints on certain things.

With regard to your point here,

I've browsed the websites of the local agents and can't see too much between them

There's LOTS to look at apart from just cost!

Do you know anyone who has used an agent they are happy with and that they could recommend?

Have you spoken to any agents? Do you get a good 'feeling' about any of them?

Take a look at what packages they offer and ask for a breakdown of what is included in each package!

Many will say use an agent who is an ARLA registered but as others here know I disagree with this because a lot of these are c**p anyway.

When you look at costings, budget in for rewriting new AST's at the end of a contract, inventories etc because trust me 99.9% of them will charge you for repeats of these.

I'm sure many more will bring lots more to the table on this question.

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Hi Welshcakes,

If you are an inexperienced landlord and/or have a very busy life then a letting agent is a MUST.

Choosing a letting agent is like choosing your priest - ie: who do you trust? Choosing by personal recommendation, as advised by J4L is a very good place to start.

Try and find a new agent that is hungry for your business. Look out for businesses that are not-VAT registered (because they will be 17.5% cheaper than all of their VAT registered competitors) and who provide a personal letting service.

Remember, as a landlord, it is not how much rent that you achieve each month - but how many months of the year is the property rented out. A property @ £800/pcm that is only rented for 11 months of the year (because the letting agent cannot find you a tenant for ther 12th month) earns less money than the same property let out for 12 months @ £750.

I, personally, would never use an ARLA registered agent as they are usually a) too big, :D too inpersonal, c) too greedy, d) too inefficient. Look out for members of the UK ALA (association of letting agents) as they tend to be a little bit smaller, and in my experience, a little bit better.

Good luck with your new venture .....

Mark ( a member of the UK ALA)

PS: If your property is near to Swindon I would be delighted to help out !

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PS: If your property is near to Swindon I would be delighted to help out !

Haha, hey Mark at least I had the decency to PM her!!

Do they have WELSH cakes in Swindon then?? hehe

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Hi J4L

And thank you for such a fast response. I've emailed all and had electronice t&cs et c from some of them - I am taking the lack of response from the others as indicative of the sort of service I would get as a client so they're out the window.

The four that responded all offer a full maintenance for 10% of rental which suits my figures fine based on the rent they recommend. I'm veering toward the agent which has the neighbouring house rented out as the tenant family seem very nice and having been keeping an eye on my property (vacant most of the year); might well be an added protection that the agent will want to avoid putting in anyone that will upset an existing client.

I've been sent lots of literature about landlord insurances, lots of different types. Our property will be let unfurnished but I presume you and others would recommend at least the basic insurances. What should I be looking to get without going overboard?

Getting a bit excited about this now!

Edit: Trenners, J4L is on the money - Welsh Lass, lol.

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HI Welshcakes !

As a novice i would highly recommend the services of a LA for at least finding the Tenant.

But as for managing ........I personally would rather crawl over hot coals !!!!! UNLESS you are out of the country or have no spare time at all ..

Check that agent will

1 reference properly ...that means proper written referencing confirming

ID(electoral reg check..passport driving license etc), employment check (if T wants 6 mth contract then you need to be assured that he/she has 6 mths wages on there way ie permanent contract NOt temp) also means assessment -make sure that T can afford rent after paying out all other commitments (loans o/d etc) and credit check to make sure there is no bad history ..(tenanref.co.uk will do all of this for you for £20 +vat)

2 make sure that LA has a good AST ...most havent....(download an excellent one from this site for free)

3 How will they protect the T deposit ( there are LA out there who still dont realsie that they must be protected! ultimately this responsibility lies with YOU and will be VERY expensive for you if not dealt with properly)

4 Ask to see a sample inventory ...nowadays this is extremely important ....

3 if you are considering full management ask lots and lots and lots of q's sleep on it then ask lots more q's


what happens if T refuses to pay rent

if T looses their job


upsets neighbours

is noisy

has allnight parties every night

moves other people into prop with them

if a window gets broken

Central heating packs up and a million other problems that can and do occur..!

Essentially you will part with a lot of money for someone to have your rent paid into their Bank acc (deduct 8-15% for the service and pass the remainder onto you !!!!! parasites they are !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!LOL)

A good LA really will "Manage your prop for you and will demonstrate this ONLY when problems arise .....and potentially there are lots!!!............Unfortunately these LA are a rare breed and to date i have never found one upto managing my portfolio ....so i self manage .....

Insurance - if unfurnished - just get blgings cover only - not contents...

J4L is absolutely correct

"There's LOTS to look at apart from just cost!" this is in fact the LEAST important factor!!!!!

Personally i use around a dozen hand picked agents to assist in keeping my porfolio full BUT ONLY FOR T FIND NOT MANAGEMENT...

PLEASE dont fall for any silly rip off clauses like :

Renewal of ast fees (unless LA is instructed to do this for you and then for a token fee NOT funny money) or

sale of prop to T entitles LA to 2% sale fee

Like every trade in this world their are a lot of cowboys who will have your trousers down off and away b4 you have even realised it ...so take care ....

The good news is you have found this forum where you will get balance of opinions from both LA and LL ( there are several other really good forums out there as well) so any problems or questions will get you a whole pile of free very experienced advice and opinion from lots of us !!!!

There is always more than one way to skin a cat as you will find on here !!!LOL

Your problem wont be how on earth do i .....

It will be Hmmmm a.,..b..., or c....

Read, read and read this and other forums and you will zoom up the learning curve pretty quick ...

Regards and welcome !


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Never assume one agent is the same as the next. Things to possibly consider:

Personal recommendations

Speed of response to enquiries

How your property is marketed

What the management agreement between you both consist of

What does the tenancy agreement between you and the tenant consist of

What references are undertaken

What other products do they offer such as rent guarantee/bld insurance

How are prospective enquiries handled/do they manage a database

What are their arrangements for viewings out of normal hours weekends etc

What type of inventory is completed

Is the client account bonded and are they members of a regulatory body ensuring compliance with certain safeguards

How do they deal with tenancy matters such as tenant complaints

How often is your property checked

What feedback/reports do they provide

How are repairs handled

What procedures are in place for late rent recovery

How experienced are they/number of managed properties

When was their tenancy agreement last updated and by who

Do they specialize or is it an estate agency bolt-on

Cost benefit - cheapest isn't best, your management service is also an availability service to be called on if required, which costs as any businesss would such as for insurance policies/legal helplines/business support etc. Management fee is same whether needing to call on their services or not, you're paying for the ongoing ability to tap in to their expertize when needed.

And so on

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Hi All

Huge thanks for all the sound advice so far.

It's a tricky one for me as I would be happy to self manage but for the fact that I live a good distance from the property and am a fulltime Carer for my disabled husband who really does need 24/7 care. The paperwowk side of self managing doesn't concern me however I am anxious that I wouldn't be able to cope with the physical managing of it eg having to deal with any problems that may arise with property or if the tenants turn out to be a nightmare. It would be no contest if the property were just around the corner where I could keep an easy eye on it.

Well, I shall have a good read through the forum and hopefully that'll fortify me onr way or the other :)

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Hi again welshcakes,

One thing to add in here to the sound advice given above is that if you feel that the service you want is not offered by any agent then ask them if they'll vary what they offer.

There are some that will change what they do to suit YOUR requirements.


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