Tips for choosing or finding recommended Letting Agents in Edinburgh
This article offers a step-by-step guide to choosing a suitable rental agency to manage your Edinburgh rental property/properties.
Why is this an important decision?
You are putting your investment in the hands of someone else and so this person or company needs to be responsible, trustworthy and must be reputable. They'll have to have good communication skills and be professional. As well as this, as a landlord, you will want tenants for your property that are going to pay the rent and look after your property - meaning you'll need to make sure the agent you choose has a rigorous tenant application and credit checking process.
Covered in this article are some decisions you should make now in order to help you choose the right agent (click on the green text below to skip to a section)
This will help you to decide what letting agent to use - as some will specialise in certain types of letting (long term; short-term; festival; student).
For example 1LET offer long-term letting and management of residential property across the city, offer management for student lettings, and also manage property portfolios for landlords and investors. 1LET do not, however, offer management services for short-term holiday or festival lets.
The length of these tenancies is usually 6 months + and is usually in the form of a Short Assured Tenancy. This option is most attractive to landlords who are looking for a long-term steady income and low tenant turnover. This is something 1LET offer and you can read more about by downloading 1LET's free landlord information pack.
The duration of short-term lets is usually anything from 1 night to 1 month. This will require a lot more time and management than long-term lets, as the turnover of tenants is regular. This is likely to mean management costs will be higher for an agent who would manage the property than a long-term letting agent however depending on occupation rates will mean more income. As well as this, consideration needs to be taken with regards to wear-and-tear: short-term lets will be subject to greater wear-and-tear due to the higher turnover of tenants.
The Edinburgh Festival is world renowned and is therefore a popular time of year for landlords to let out their property during the month of August only. Again, an agent who offers short-term management of holiday lets is your best bet.
Student-lets often typically last for one year. If your rental property has enough space for 3+ people and you are open to letting it to students, then you will require a HMO license as well as ensuring that your property meets the legal requirements associated with HMO properties. Again, if you are choosing to let your property to students then the agency's knowledge and experience of what's involved will have a big influence on your decision. Again, 1LET manage several student properties, from 1 bed - 5 bed. Find out more by downloading 1LET's free landlord information pack.
What type of tenants is your property most suited to? What kind of tenants would you prefer in the property?
Deciding who you want to live in your property will help you choose an agent. For example if you decide you would specifically like students to live in your property, then choosing an agent with experience of student tenancies would make sense.
Deciding who you want to live in your property will also help in attracting the right tenants by marketing the property in the right way.
Some landlords are happy to rent their property to students, others choose not to. Some are happy with Post Graduate students but not Undergraduates. It's all a matter of choice.
Reasons why you might choose to let to students: you may be likely to receive higher rent; you have a 5 bed flat in City Centre which is most appealing to students; demand for student properties is high, and if in the right location, can achieve a higher rental yield.
Reasons why you may not choose to let to students: not suitable for students due to location; higher likelihood of wear-and-tear; greater rate of tenant turnover; requires HMO license if 3+ unrelated tenants which means additional costs.
Reasons why you might choose to let to professionals: letting to professionals will mean the property is not being used as much as a student property as they will be out of the property at work; rental income more secure as they will have a fixed source of regular income.
Reasons why you might choose to let to a family: the property is located in a residential area near a school and means it will most appeal to a family; tenancy security- a family is likely to rent for a longer period of time and will mean not having to re-market and find new tenants as often.
Reasons why you might not choose to let to a family: a family with young children will mean more chance of wear-and-tear as a lot of time will be spent in the property.
If you have no preference and are open to any type of tenant then this will mean attracting tenants is more likely to be easier due to fewer restrictions.
If your property is in the centre of Edinburgh, it may make more sense to choose an agent located nearby. Again, depending on whether or not your property is being rented short-term or long-term will have more or less of an influence on your decision.
Benefits of choosing a local agent: local knowledge - choosing a local agent will have the benefit of local Knowledge of Edinburgh and the surrounding areas; accurate rental valuation - local agents will have greater knowledge and experience than a non-local agent or online agent and will therefore mean you are more likely to get an accurate rental valuation and advantages in terms of marketing the property and accessing the property.
#4 What level of property management service do you require?
Knowing what level of service you need will allow you to match your needs to the services offered by an agent.
Full property management
Landlords who want as little involvement as possible with the property will choose a service that does all of the work for them; all marketing of the property, tenant application and selection; managing all legal requirements; managing of all tenancy documents; inventory, deposit and rent collection; rent payments to landlord; monthly statements; end-of-year statement for tax; property visits; managing repairs and compliance.
Landlords or investors who have more than 1 property will require the same services as above but will require consistency across all properties. If you have more than one property make sure you make the agent aware of this in the initial stages of your enquiry as it could mean additional incentives are available to you such as a reduced management fee.
Some landlords will wish to manage the tenancy and property themselves but may require some services partial-letting services; such as marketing the property; tenant application and selection; all tenancy paperwork and documents.
Marketing only services
Finally, with landlords who only require access to marketing resources, they will opt for the bare minimum marketing services. For example, 1LET's marketing only service includes; professional marketing pictures, description and floor plan (optional) as well as a video (optional) and marketing on portals including: onthemarket, Citylets and the 1LET website
Knowing what you are looking for in your agent will make it easier to choose an agent that comes highly recommended.
Some agents are heavily focused on customer service. You can compare agents on their quality of customer service by doing a number of things:
You can read reviews on allagents.co.uk - the UK’s largest review site for estate and letting agents. Alternatively you can type the name of the agent into Google to see if they have any Google reviews.
Read the reviews and take note of comments on: the services the person who left a review used; who left the review – a tenant or a landlord; comments on how the agent dealt with any situations that arose and the staff members who were helpful.
Forums like this one let you read about letting agents in Edinburgh that people have had experience with as well as any general advice. For example, one person who posted on the above forum suggested looking on allagents.co.uk to read the reviews left by tenants and landlords.
Listen to recommendations and word of mouth
Do your friends or family also have property in Edinburgh that they rent out? If so, who do they use? Would they strongly recommend them to you or would they say that they could definitely improve? Are their needs the same as yours, for example, is their property of similar size – with the same target tenants – and for the same purpose as you ? If so, what do they like about them? What areas could they improve on?
Asking all of the above questions will help you in your decision and aid in your research of an agent who comes highly recommended.
Some agents may have more experience in dealing with landlords who do not live locally or indeed live in another country. Make sure they can help if you are a Non-Resident Landlord, and again watch out for reviews that may specifically be written by NRL landlords.
Some landlords prefer to be more involved with the process than others. This is something you want the agent you choose to know, for example some may be happy to leave all maintenance decisions to the agents, and wish not to be contacted unless a complete emergency. Others however, will wish to be consulted on all maintenance jobs no matter how big or small, and will have preference over contractors / tradesmen that are used. The forms you complete should you choose 1LET, for example, allow you to specify what level of involvement you wish to have with your rental property.
Does the agent represent quality and professionalism? Factors that will help you to answer this question will be:
Is the agent a member of recognised organisations that specifically highlight the integrity and compliance of the agent with the industry’s regulations and best practice?1LET, for example, is a member of several organisations including ARLA – you can view all of our memberships at the bottom of this page and click on them to visit each of their websites.
Ability to manage a portfolio of properties
If you have multiple properties and you require property management for them all then the decision of choosing one agent becomes even more important as you are putting more of your wealth into, metaphorically speaking, ‘one basket’. An alternative decision may be to use multiple agents, gage which you feel offers you the best service and then pass them over to that one agent that you have found to offer you the service level and quality that you need.
Alternatively, if you think you have found one agent that you feel you can trust with your investment portfolio then allow them to manage one property in the beginning, to ensure you are happy with the way they work.
Does the agent you are considering keep you up to date with sector news? One way to find out is by signing up to their newsletter or having a quick look at their blog. For example, we sent out an update to landlords informing them of the new smoke detector guidelines, and highlighted the Scottish Government’s consultation on a new tenancy for the Private Rented Sector 2014. Things like this can help you to know what’s going on and help you make decisions about your investment, such as, for example – deciding whether or not now is the time to sell.