Better the letting agent you know: Why in-house property services are tops

Rents have been falling around the UK for the past year. While that’s good news for the many people renting, it’s not so favourable for landlords looking to maximise their revenue streams.

The exact reason for declining rents remains unclear. Perhaps it’s a glut of rental properties in the market, people leaving the country because of Brexit, or ongoing jitters over the vote to leave the EU. It may be all or none of these. What is clear is that a marked slowdown is being felt right through the UK rental sector.

Nationwide, rates for new rents are now averaging around £901 per month, a drop of 0.3% in the last year up to May, according to new figures from landlord services firm HomeLet. In London, however, where rents are typically far higher, the fall is more pronounced. Rents for new tenancies in the capital are down 3% in the last year and are now averaging £1,502 a month from £1,572, a decline of £70. For landlords with a substantial number of properties, that fall-off could eat right into their profits.

Looking After Landlords

What does the rental-price drop have to do with the services letting and estate agents provide to their landlord clients and their tenants? A lot. It turns out that agents offering a highly personalised in-house service to clients keep their tenants satisfied and help to protect landlords’ revenues, says John Horton of Horton and Garton — estate agents in Hammersmith, London.

That, he says, compares to the type of landlord services offered by some of the larger letting and estate agents in the country. Often, their client services are run from remote call centres and there can be little in the way of actual care and attention, especially when an emergency arises and immediate assistance is required.

“Our property manager works in the Hammersmith office instead of a call centre, we have out-of-hours emergency line for tenants and work closely with local tradesmen and maintenance companies, promoting local businesses,” said Mr Horton.

Many landlord clients, he said, had become frustrated with the level of service received by large letting agents and were turning to smaller, independent ones to meet their requirements. These firms also have longstanding relationships with the various tradesmen in the areas their landlords have buildings in, so there’s no chance of shoddy work and rip-off charges.

TIP: Read more about how to start your own letting agency.

Attention to Detail

Every landlord, after all, is keenly aware of the many calamities that can befall them when renting out their properties. These can include sudden electricity problems that can leave tenants fuming and in the dark for long spells, structural problems such as part of a ceiling collapsing, and plumbing issues that can threaten to flood people out of a flat or house.

Failure by landlords or their letting or estate agents to take immediate action and rectify these sorts of problems can cause them difficulties down the line: reputational damage and possible legal issues may well arise. It’s not just emergencies that are critical, either. There’s the ongoing task of carrying out maintenance on properties so that they’re in good shape for tenants and in compliance with various laws.

There is no doubt that business landscape all around Britain today is challenging. For landlords hoping to expand their property portfolios and become more profitable, in-house property management services are proving to be a lifeline.