Parting company with my letting agent

Parting company with my letting agent

9:47 AM, 22nd February 2013, About 11 years ago 11

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Parting company with my  letting agentMy letting agent has been taking £39.00 a month for doing nothing as far as I can see.

Our tenant rang me on Monday because there was a problem with the central heating boiler.  My husband arranged for a plumber to go in today and the heating is working.

I have had this tenant for 6 years with no problems.

I was going to email my agent and “say that I want to take over the running of my property.”

I will need another tenancy agreement between myself and the tenant and they need to change the direct debit  to my bank account.

I don’t have a copy of the tenancy agreement so I don’t know if she took a deposit or not. You can see now why I don’t want to give them anymore of my money for doing nothing.

I wasn’t going to ask for a deposit as they are good tenants.

If they leave I will look at employing another agent then.

Q1. Do you think that I am going about this the right way?

Q2. Do you have an up to date tenancy agreement that I could use?

Thank you.


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Lynne Davis

10:38 AM, 22nd February 2013, About 11 years ago

If you can get the agent to provide you with a copy of the tenancy agreement (which they should do upon request, though we had to threaten to take ours to court when we went through the same thing), and it shows the contract as being between you and the tenant, then you don't really need a new agreement - though there's no harm in doing one if you prefer.

If there's a deposit then it should have been protected (otherwise there's no option but to return it in full anyway) and the tenant should have been given the details. The agent should pass the deposit over to you - but it will have to remain protected unless it's returned to the tenant. It sounds as if you'd be happy to do this anyway so you could just instruct the agent to return it.

Unless you have a means of taking direct debits (such as GoCardless or Landlordsrent) it will be easier just to set up a standing order; it's not difficult to knock up a simple S.O. form.

If you're not already a member of a landlords' association such as the NLA, RLA or Guild of Residential Landlords, then it's worth joining; they will provide tenancy agreements and legal advice, and membership only costs around £80pa.

Do check your contract with the agent as there might be a tie-in clause that prevents you from taking a tenant away from them without paying them. We didn't have such a clause but we were required to give them two months' written notice, which we did - we could maybe have sacked them with immediate effect but it was a bit like Section 21 vs Section 8 - better to give the contracted notice period and avoid unnecessary conflict.

Mark Alexander - Founder of Property118

11:00 AM, 22nd February 2013, About 11 years ago

Hi Angela, before you rush into this PLEASE read the contract you signed between you and your letting agent. Sometimes not all is as it may first appear. If you watch a duck swimming across a pond it looks as though it's gliding gracefully. However, below the surface it's little legs will be paddling like the clappers. Then ask yourself the question; "Do I know about all the laws associated with lettings and do I want the hassle?". When you have done that please read this thread >>>

Antony Richards

17:11 PM, 22nd February 2013, About 11 years ago

If you pay peanuts you will get monkeys!! Our minimum fee is £60 plus VAT per month so its hardly any wonder the agenst cannot live up to your expectations.
Other than that check the terms and conditions to see what the termination requirements are and act accordingly.

Mark Alexander - Founder of Property118

17:36 PM, 22nd February 2013, About 11 years ago

I'm not sure I agree with that Richard. Some agents are using technology combined with insurance back products to offer some amazing deals. They cut out the costs of expensive offices and employees and instead operate hub and spoke business models. For a fixed fee of £34.99 + VAT pcm I can get an ARLA agent to let and manage my properties and that includes the costs of an AIIC qualified inventory clerk doing check in and check out and also 12 months RGI and legal fees protection. Many agents said it wasn't possible for that money but it is, I've seen it with my own eyes. They've just launched a cut down version of that package in Scotland too where they can't even charge premiums to tenants, see the linkto the article I wrote about that last night below

Nick Pope

18:08 PM, 22nd February 2013, About 11 years ago

I let through an agent about 5 years ago for an initial 3 year AST with fixed rent increases. They charged 11% for rent collection only. At the time the market was weak soI agreed. The tenant wanted to stay on after 3 years and as they were thinking of a second child (it was only a 2 bed house) I agreed that they could hold over on a month by month basis if they woulf give min. 2 months notice. The agents went ape and said I could not do that and it wsn't legal. Having been in the property game for 40 years I have a little knowledge and the arrangement was perfectly legal.

However their contract was so strongly worded that I had to pay them to prepare a new lease even though one was not done. They even wrote to the tenant threatening them with bailiffs if they did not pay their share of the non-existant new lease.

I then went back to them to try to re-negotiate the fee levels as they had only done rent collection and found that there was no way of bringing the agreement to a close and they refused to even discuss fees.

So, left with no choice I boought anther buy-to- let, moved the tenants who were now exoecting baby #2 (there was nothing in the agreement about fees for this) and then let the house myself.

I'm out of the agreement with the agents now and have let them know that they have lost the management of a total of 3 properties because they would not be flexible. Guess what - they now want to discuss fee levels!

For clarity we are not talking about a small local agent but one of the largest in the country, the local area ofice employing 60 people.

Karen Lupton

20:23 PM, 22nd February 2013, About 11 years ago

I used to pay a letting agent 10% + VAT for management, and to this day I am not sure what they did. I sorted all the maintenance out, after receiving invoices from them for ridiculous jobs they had arranged (£20 for a plumber to go round and bleed the radiators? My 6 year old could have done it!!), inspections were never thorough and deposits were returned where significant damage had been done, their advertising was poor, they didn't do viewings...I could go on.... I eventually requested to terminate our agreement, and offered to buy myself out. However, they were very reasonable and just accepted a months notice from me, and did not charge me (although to be fair 2 of the tenants quit at this time so there was only one long term tenant). Anyway I now let our 5 properties myself, and is not too arduous, and it's rather nice to keep that portion of my income for myself! Oh, and they just gave me all the legal documents, tenancy agreements etc.. But I was under the impression that they belonged to me anyway?


11:25 AM, 23rd February 2013, About 11 years ago

Antony, I totally disagree. There are some honest and very hard working agents out there that do not have to resort to these high priced fixed fees that you suggest.

Antony Richards

8:38 AM, 25th February 2013, About 11 years ago

Mark and DC. Have it your way. Stack 'em and sell 'em cheap. As somebody who spent the first few years of my children's life geting qualified to offer professional advice that is not the market I wish to be in. I can employ a book keeper to do my records or I can employ an accountant to make sure I keep legal but who can also offer sound advice on tax saving. I can but a 'meal' from a fast food outlet or pay more for proper food. In the words of Crocodile Dundee 'you can eat it but it tastes like s**t'. There is obviously a market for the standard of service you require but there will always be those prepared to pay for quality and that is the market we aim for.

Mark Alexander - Founder of Property118

9:42 AM, 25th February 2013, About 11 years ago

Anthony, please do not misunderstand me. I too am professionally qualified, I also bank with Coutts & Co. and drive a new Jag XJ so I do appreciate that cheap isn't always value for money. The agents I was referring to are, however, also professionally qualified by ARLA. That's not to say they are the right agents for everybody though. I use several agents, much the same way as I have several friends. There's no one size fits all and never will be.


10:46 AM, 28th February 2013, About 11 years ago

“There is obviously a market for the standard of service you require but there will always be those prepared to pay for quality and that is the market we aim for.” - Antony

I’m not sure if you are doing yourself or your business justice with your response as your choice of words is harsh when you do not know exactly what service people get for the fees they pay.

Penzance is obviously a more affluent part of the country than in Cambridgeshire where I own property, so perhaps your minimum fee of £72 inc VAT is considered reasonable. That equates to a monthly fee of 15% plus VAT on a £400pm rental. I certainly would hope never to have to pay those sort of fees and I wonder whether landlords reading this could justify paying those sort of costs on their 1 and 2 bed property portfolios in their areas?

I strive to find quality and value for money all the time but that hasn’t always been easy within the lettings industry. I have learnt from experience (mostly bad ones) that cost, promises of standards of work, qualifications and membership of regulatory bodies doesn’t always add up to best value when it comes to letting agents. I have used both cheaper and far more expensive agents but now I use a company that sit somewhere in between cost-wise but they are head and shoulders above in all other respects so I still disagree with your comments. Cheap doesn’t always mean S**T as you so eloquently put it.

I am very happy with the thoroughly professional standard of full management that I get and I pay substantially less than your minimum fee on the majority of my properties plus there are no other fees payable either. Okay, none of my properties rent quite as low as £400pm but those rents are plentiful here and East Anglia isn’t exactly the cheapest part of the UK. Three of my properties are new-build, freehold houses too, but as with all my properties I maintain them in tip-top condition and with the very reasonable fees that I pay I can pass on the savings to my tenants thus keeping my rents at a fair level. Surely investment property ownership is a long-term strategy so to stay in it you need to look beyond the end of your nose in all aspects of it.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for buying good value and enjoying my hard earned money but I’m trying not to be short sighted with my investment plan.

I see that you have linked an example property to this forum, perhaps to show that you do deal in the lower priced end of the market? This is the type of property that I would say is suitable for a young adult, possibly needing a guarantor. Your website would suggest they may have to find £130 in non-refundable fees, a deposit of £675 plus the monthly rent of £450. That’s £1255 upfront, which is a lot for anyone to pay in current times let alone a youngster in their first job and possibly fresh out of university with all the associated debts to pay for years to come and facing all the expense of setting-up a new home. Couple that with the £72 monthly Landlords fee and that one property has generated the sort of turnover that would put off most tenants and landlords alike.

I think we need to be very careful with fees because the cost of renting is beginning to spiral dangerously out of sync with earnings and it will come to a head sooner rather than later, spoiling it for investors like me and also for professionals like you.

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