Give your rental agent a clear mandate

Tough times over the past two years have prompted many private property owners to become landlords, and now low interest rates and prices are also bringing buy-to-let investors back into the market.

Consequently, there is much greater demand now for the services of estate agents that handle leasing, and many whose primary expertise was in sales have turned their hands to property administration.

However, says Berry Everitt, CEO of the Chas Everitt International property group, the situation is not altogether rosy, as there is great potential for disputes between landlords and their agents if both are inexperienced, most of these arising from poor communication.

“There is thus a need for landlords to give their rental agents clear, written mandates before they allow them to let their properties.”

These mandates, he suggests, should cover the following:

* The role you wish the agent to play – is it simply to advertise the property and find a tenant, or do you expect him to continuously manage the property during the lease period?

* Both the amount of commission payable to the agent and whether it will be paid as a lump sum on commencement of a lease, or monthly;

* The amount the agent may spend on maintenance and minor repairs without reference to you, and what he should do if larger repairs become necessary;

* The standard of workmanship you require from maintenance or repair crews, bearing in mind that you may wish to sell the property at a later stage; and

* Exactly what steps are to be taken in the event of non-payment of rental.

Everitt says landlords leasing furnished premises should also request that the agent take a proper inventory before tenants move in, and again immediately after they leave.

“They should also insist on written proof of what the agent has done to establish the creditworthiness of any potential tenant – and clearly instruct the agent that no tenant is ever, under any circumstances, to be allowed to take occupation of the property until the deposit has been paid in full.”

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