One of the first questions we’re asked when meeting new landlords about potentially listing their property (along with the price for the rent and for our services) is what the different service levels we offer are. Generally, these are the same options across the market, with every agent, but sometimes they are described differently. There tend to be 3 main levels of service, but if they don’t fit what a landlord is looking for, it’s always possible to build a bespoke service to meet their needs.
Tenant Find Only
This is the most basic level of service that is offered to a landlord by an agent. This will involve arranging the necessary photographs and floorplans, listing the property online, and carrying out viewings with prospective applicants. Usually, once a tenant has been found, this will all involve carrying out any referencing checks and completing all the necessary paperwork in advance of the move in. However, as the landlord will be managing the property once the tenants have moved in, they sometimes prefer to arrange this themselves.
The cost is generally either a fixed fee, or a portion of the first month’s rent, and will be collected at the outset of the tenancy. The agent also often arranges other necessary work before the tenancy, such as a professional inventory, protecting the deposit, or obtaining a gas safety certificate.
When the tenants collect the keys and move in, the deal is then handed over to the landlord, who manages the rest of the tenancy. The only further involvement the agent will have is if they have protected the deposit.
This level of service calls for a little more involvement from the agent but also leaves a fair bit of responsibility with the landlord. As well as advertising the property, finding new tenants and arranging all the necessary paperwork, the agent is also responsible for taking the rent each month and ensuring it is paid on time, in line with the tenancy agreement. This takes away one of the biggest stresses of being a landlord in having to chase up rents that are due and make sure everything is recorded as paid.
The agent will monitor rents that are due and those that have (or haven’t been received) and inform the landlord as necessary when there are any delays. Under this arrangement, the landlord remains responsible for the general day-to-day management of the property, including any maintenance and required checks. This leaves a fair amount of direct contact with the tenants, which often suits landlords.
The cost tends to be a percentage of the rent, taken each month from the payment received before it is paid over to the landlord. This offers another major advantage to the landlord of keeping cash flow even, rather than a big bill all at once, especially considering that over a 12 month period, the overall costs can be almost the same.
This one really is the gold standard and the option that most landlords decide to go with. Under the full management model, the agent takes over every aspect of the let, from listing the property right through to moving the tenants out and returning the deposit. This means that the landlord has no direct contact with the tenant and takes the burden of the stress out of letting a property. In this level of service, the landlord need only liaise with the office when necessary over potential lets, any concerns, or to approve maintenance requests or quotes.
The cost for this is always taken as a percentage of the rent each month before the rent is sent on to the landlord. This again offers the advantage of spacing out any cost, whilst decreasing any hassle from managing a property day to day.
It’s easy to see why this model is so popular, as it is extremely useful for landlords who either would like the time to go out and grow their property business, who have another job they need to dedicate their time to, or have retired and use property to supplement their income to be able to have an agent do the legwork.
Sometimes, these options don’t work for a particular landlord and a bespoke deal is more appropriate, which is always something we consider when first meeting landlords and even as the needs of a particular landlord change over time. The main area we are asked about outside of the three main options is a rent guarantee. Rent guarantees were really popular a few years ago, but as a sort of flash in the pan and then died away. Rent guarantees will usually take one of two forms.
The first is as an insurance, which can be taken out either through an agent or as a standalone product a landlord can acquire. This works as with any other insurance-based product, where if the tenant stops paying, the costs will be covered by a claim on the insurance. They aren’t required often but can be useful when needed, but there are often certain criteria that need to be met in the set up of the tenancy and a certain amount of default that is needed to activate the product.
The other is where an agent guarantees the amount for a period of time, regardless of anything else. The model works on a similar basis to “rent to rent” schemes, where the landlord is paid a below-market rent for a period of time and the agent makes a profit by then letting the property at its true market value. Whilst this can be an attractive prospect should something go wrong, in reality, it can leave a landlord worse off than they otherwise would have been. Both options have their use, but the value is often rarely realised.
If you have a property you would like us to let for you, please email email@example.com, or call the office on 01273 672 999 and we’ll be more than happy to help.