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We're moving abroad in about 12 months and want to rent out our London flat. We're going to be gone for at least five years. Does anyone have recommendations for letting agencies? As we're going to be on the other side of the world we can't manage it ourselves so ideally would like to use an agency someone has recommended to do this.

Also, does anyone else have experience of doing something like this and have any tips or recommendations? It's hard to know where to start!

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Lucky you're in London, if you were in South Wales i'd PM you who to avoid!!

I am overseas at the moment for the next few years at least and have my properties managed with two different agencies because of the different markets and a couple let privately to trusted tenants. Some properties are marina/beach which attract corporate T's, so we made sure to source and employ a high end agency with their own corporate clients and that has been very successful. On the other end of the scale we have some town apartments which lately have had a high turnover mainly due to the very poor standards of the agency that I have them with. I think the problems started when I left the country, prior to this, they did quite a good job, now it's like I get the dregs of the T world. I am changing the agency in 2 weeks time yippee..

BUT, lets be positive!!! First assess with a critical eye, what kind of property you have and who your target market is, honestly and then source the right kind of agent. This will mean lots of phoncalls, meetings and appraisals - some you will instantly like, others dislike. Check out your local property post to make sure your agent's appraisal is on the ball. You need to agree on what kind of T to accept and what kind of T is not acceptable, what you expect of them and agree a management fee. For London, 1 prop. I guess 10-12.5% per month, I'm not entirely sure. Inventories must be watertight, you might want to view a sample from an agent. IMHO you must insist on your agency doing a proper credit check, not just in-house referencing.

Make sure you apply for self assessment property supplementary pages for your tax AND you must apply to HMRC for Non Residents Landlord Scheme, if you do not want your letting agent to dedct tax on your behalf-obviously you do not want this! Although they will reimburse you, when your certificate comes throught, it's better for cash flow if you do this in advance. You'll pay tax on any profits, so it makes sense to marry up your mortgage and costs to your anticipated rent. Going interest only will also be easier for accounting.

p.s. don't forget to change your insurance policy and possibly your mortgage and what i have hooked up on my biggest props. is british gas homecare, peace of mind for us and T's and much cheaper than the agency sending repairmen when the boiler or something plays up.

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