As a landlord you must ask yourself what sort of involvement you require from and are able to give your managing agent and this will often depend on the type of property you are letting and the type of tenants expected (of course the latter will not always be guaranteed!) Communication, as in many areas, must be the key here.
Most landlords make use of the same agency who let their property to also manage it, but many agencies do not focus their staffing skills in this customer service based area which is very different from the sales, target based skills which secured the tenants in the first place.
Are you a ‘business landlord’ whose property/ies are purely an investment and in place for maximum return? Or are you a ‘homeowner landlord’ who used to live in said property and are reluctantly letting out the home that your children grew up in due to circumstance, your top priority being that they do not damage it? Or of course you may be somewhere in-between the two. Depending on this, the levels of communication you expect and desire will vary greatly and so would the type of Property Management service that would suit you best. It could be assumed that the former may find it easier to find a managing agent that they are happy with, wanting little involvement themselves and simply requiring the figures at the end of the tax year with minimum fuss. This is not necessarily so though, as there is of course still the need to manage effectively in keeping costs down but tenants happy (maximum return) and also to make those executive decisions in such a way that would please the landlord, without having to bother them frequently.
Landlords often feel that it would be easier to keep all of the dealings for their property in one place, however the job of a managing agent is to look after the property and tenancy and so to a good one this should include ensuring a smooth transition and good communication between any Letting Agent and themselves, thereby alleviating any hassle in this respect. A good Property Manager by their very nature being in the job, is a problem-solver and so won’t let a small issue of dealing with another agency for you for Lettings cause issue.
If you don’t simply use the agency who let your property for you then how do you know where to find a good Property Manager? Recommendations, reviews and previous dealings are the best ways. Perhaps you dealt with someone else’s managing agent due to a leak into your property or suchlike and you liked what you saw, or perhaps your landlord had a managing agent looking after a property where you were a tenant and now you are a landlord who requires one. The London property world especially is a tiny place.
The cost of a managing agent is likely to be less than your SKY subscription and a personalised one focusing on Management only, even less so. Alas, even and especially when trying to maximise your profits, I am sure you will agree it is worth it. Talk to any prospective managing agent before you engage them to ensure that they can meet your needs.
With the extra 3% stamp duty now on buy-to-let properties, many people who would usually let out their old house when they buy another will now be considering selling. The would-be ‘accidental landlord’ may be looking to buy a new house due to the need to upsize, relocate, or perhaps because they’ve met a new partner and they want to purchase a home together but still keep one or both of their former homes that they’ve worked hard to buy. It is just not worth them retaining it now though in some circumstances, or they can’t if they don’t have the funds available at that crucial point to cover the extra tax.
This fact, coupled with the increasing comfort of the idea of so-called ‘rent 2 rents,’ which is the renting out of properties room-by-room and which is often more profitable for larger properties than the standard single let, means that very quickly we could start seeing less family homes for rent on the market. As landlords are squeezed on taxes and look to maximise their profits they are more inclined to rent even their beloved former homes to 3 or more individuals with a guaranteed rent company than to rent to the nice family who are stop-gapping in London or saving up to buy a home of their own. Renting in London is generally seen, although common and it is said that there are more renters than homeowners now, as temporary. There are though still many families who rely on the private rental sector for housing because they can’t or don’t want to rent from the Local Authority and they can’t get a mortgage, but who need to remain in a certain area due to schools etc. Taxes aside as we cannot unfortunately change these, other means of filling properties are simply businesses trying also to make a living, along with landlords who are trying to get the most out of their asset.
There is an interesting rise I have discovered in community rental living which are rental properties purpose-built for families, such as the one which is just popping up in Greenwich. These come with facilities such as buggy storage, play areas and communal gardens and which will obviously not see professionals or students taking over, or be sub-let.
I would be interested to know though if others have seen a drop in tradition family rental homes on the market and / or who have families on their books looking for homes, on behalf of whom they are struggling to satisfy-?