For a while now, I’ve put the idea out there that landlords can avoid letting agent fees by finding tenants for themselves. It’s a great way to save A LOT of money, and it’s generally a great way to capture landlording/business/people experience. I’ve avoided letting agents for the past few years, primarily because of how powerful the internet has become as a marketing tool. I do 99% of my marketing online using various websites which I’ve mentioned in previous blog posts. I’ve literally saved thousands by doing so.
I like to believe that if more landlords are made aware of how it can be done, then there’s likelihood that a lot more landlords will successfully recruit tenants themselves.
While I personally love being able to cut out the middle man (letting agent), nothing literally makes me happier than knowing that someone else managed to do the same after taking away something positive from my experiences. That’s genuinely the core of why I’ve kept this blog going- I want people to learn from my mistakes and experiences. Actually, not just learn from MY own mistakes and experiences- but from all the other contributors to my blog as well. Over the years I’ve had thousands of people leave comments, consisting of so many great tips and answers to questions that I never would have known otherwise. The comments have come from all sorts of people, not just landlords, but tenants, letting agents, estate agents and people with a general interest in the property sector. So many people have learned from those comments (especially me). It’s just fucking awesome when a community with a common interest helps one another.
This comment was left in the property forum earlier tonight:
Thought I’d share my recent experiences with you. I’m a long time lurker on this site, though I occasionally post in the blog comments. Great site by the way, it’s really helped!
So, we’ve had a bit of a nightmare getting our first tenants in, we’ve had a few people agree, sign an application form, then pull out at the last minute, or withhold information meaning we had to cancel (like, they’re claiming HB). We’ve even been threatened with legal action after refusing to return someone’s holding deposit after they pulled out, despite both us and them having a receipt signed by both parties which clearly states that the deposit isn’t refundable if they pull out!
Anyway, so it’s getting a bit tricky now and we really had to get someone in, so we decided to pull out all the stops…and hire an agent as well. We went with quite a reputable one, and they were charging one month’s rent + VAT for finding us a tenant. One bonus was that there’d be no re-let fee, so it was just a one off payment. It’s still pretty expensive for simply placing an ad and finding us a tenant. So we went for it, and gave them a set of keys and some pictures of the property (I don’t trust agents to take their own pictures any more!!).
Meanwhile, we set about trying our own luck. We decided not to simply stick with the free sites (Gumtree, houseladder, etc), and we went through Let Match (as recommended on this site) and they put an ad on Rightmove for us for around £30.
It appeared both us and the agents were getting a bit of interest so I thought it might be a dead heat, but I wasn’t convinced that the agent really did have all the interest he said he did. He knew we were trying to do it ourselves at the same time, so I couldn’t help but wonder whether he was telling us he had loads of interest to try and get us to slow down.
Anyway, so we had quite a bit of interest ourselves and hosted several viewings and eventually took a healthy holding deposit after confirming interest with a tenant. Just as we did, the agency rang up to say that he had someone who might be interested (if we lower the rent). Obviously we said no.
Anyway, I’m sorry I’m not a more interesting writer, but I did want to share with you all my experiences of trying to get a tenant in before the agent could, thus avoiding having to pay any agency fees. It’s a nice story, and I got a lot of help from this site, so thanks!
What a wicked story (and well written). I’m extremely thankful that this landlord shared his/her success story. Credit where credit is due, finding your own tenants as a newbie landlord is admirable. I certainly could never have done that.
I wish this landlord the best of luck.
UPDATE: I’ve recently written an eBook, “Death of the Agent“, it’s a comprehensive guide on how to find tenants without employing the use of a letting agent and their fees.