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Letting Agents

If you are moving out of your property and am considering renting out to a tenant rather than selling it, you may find the services of a letting agent quite useful. You can rent the property out privately, which will save you costs  and maximise your profits, however, unless you have experience of renting out properties and completely understand the laws involved and your responsibilities as a landlord you may struggle, furthermore, you may open yourself up to a lawsuit from a tenant if you do not fulfil your landlord requirements,What a letting agent does:The main role of a letting agent is to find a tenant to rent your property for you.  First they will visit and value your property (usually for free), this valuation will form the basis of determining the rental income on the property. The letting agent will then advertise your property, arrange viewings for tenants and help the negotiations between you (the landlord) and potential tenants. Once the agent has found a tenant and both parties have come to an agreement, the letting agent will draft up the required tenancy agreement which both the tenant and you, the landlord, need to sign. Some letting agents are able to offer additional services, such as checks on the tenants to ensure their suitability and ability to pay the rent along with checking references etc.  If there is an additional charge for this service, this is usually covered by the tenant not the landlord, unless it is covered in the basic price quoted by the letting agent to begin with. Agents can also compile an inventory of all the furniture and appliances that are currently in the property as well as the condition that they are in (so when a tenant moves out if there are any damages the tenants deposit will be used to pay for these). Agents typically collect the monthly rent from tenants and will also collect the deposit, and along with this they offer a management service, which includes:•    Renewing tenancy agreements•    Maintenance and repairs •    Dealing with the tenants•    Dealing with professionals such as electricians and plumbersThe Association of Residential Letting Agents has a database of letting agents who are members of their association, and when you are looking for a letting agent this is the best place to check to find a comprehensive list.  This isn’t the only way to find a letting agent, however, try talking to other landlords in the area for recommendations.  Once you have a shortlist of potential letting agents you would like to use, research each one and try to find reviews from other customers.  When deciding upon one letting agent, avoid choosing the cheapest agent, take into consideration the services they offer, how reputable they are and how experienced they are.  Ask questions from letting agents when calling to enquire.  These questions should include:•    What experience do you have?•    Do you often let properties in the same area my property is in?•    How quickly can you get a tenant into my property?•    Do you have tenants waiting for properties to become available?•    What checks do you perform on tenants and what sort of tenants do you usually have?•    What are the fees and charges involved?•    Are there likely to be any additional costs involved for me?•    How is my property and money protected?•    What do you do if the tenant does not pay the rent?•    What is the process for work that needs to be carried out?Once you have asked all these questions, conducted the relevant research and have compared the services on offer and the varying costs involved, you are in the position to make a decision as to which letting agent you would like to appoint.