Fully Managed Letting Services – Do YOU Really Need It? Probably Not

Fully managed letting service

Hi, Pookie! :)

So, I’m not a fan of ‘fully managed’ BTL letting services.

Actually, more accurately, it’s not that I’m not a fan, I just think it’s a service that’s mostly mis-sold or misunderstood, and a consequence of frivolous spending.

I don’t usually mind being rubbed the wrong way, but I’m still bitter after disintegrating my pennies almost decade ago, when I paid through the ass for a fully managed service that I didn’t even need. Yes, still bitter. I’m not blaming the agents… for selling me junk, I’m just saying I blindly purchased an unnecessary and expensive piece-of-shit because I was too much of an idiot to know any better.

But I’m certain I’m not the only landlord guilty of said idiocy! I’m convinced many landlords have purchased, some of whom are currently still throwing money at, a fully managed service they don’t actually need or use. If I’m right, that means there’s a butt-tonne of unnecessary spending going on. And for those of you that haven’t dropped the cash on one yet, but are currently ‘in the market’, there’s a good chance you don’t really understand what’s inside the package you’re eyeing up…

Page contents:

The natural ‘thing to do’ for new landlords

For most new and upcoming landlords (I was no exception), the perceived blueprint for becoming a landlord is usually the following:

  • 1) Buy property
  • 2) Use letting agent to find and manage tenant/property
  • 3) Sit back, relax, and watch the cheese roll in.

Look/sound familiar?

Ahhh, sweet ignorance.

Whether letting agents realise it or not, “consumer ignorance” is probably their most valuable commodity. An ignorant punter to an agent is like a lame zebra to a pack of malnourished lions!

Most novice landlords don’t even realise there are other sensible options available besides from going fully-managed from the offset. I didn’t, and that’s because using a managed service seemed like the biological make-up of being a new and average landlord, and perhaps that’s why so many of us needlessly opt into the service. Consumer ignorance.

No one’s to blame, but I do think there is a massive misunderstanding of what a ‘fully-managed service’ actually is, and that’s why I want to better define it (based on my experience).

What should you expect from a fully managed letting service?

The “perceived” idea of a fully managed service is that you’re paying an agent to take care of the entire running of your BTL, so you have very limited involvement, if any at all. Unfortunately, the reality is usually somewhat different, but I’ll get to that shortly. First, let’s take a look at what a typical fully-managed package should provide you:

  • Advertising
  • Viewings
  • Referencing of prospective tenants
  • Inventory
  • Prepare all tenancy agreements and documents
  • Register tenancy deposit
  • Rent collection
  • Regular property inspections
  • Maintenance handling & co-ordination
  • Notice processing
  • Final inspection & deposit dispute handling

That seems like a lot, and I guess it is. But I think it all seems more elaborate and time-consuming than it actually is. The majority of that list is ticked off at the beginning of the tenancy.

The reality of fully-managed services from my experience

Firstly, let’s go straight for the kill… fully managed services are crazy expensive; 8-15% of my annual rent + other notoriously bogus fees (which are often tucked away discretely in the small print, and only come to light at the worst possible time) in exchange for a service which is overwhelmingly unused, and when it is, often served at sub-par standard. Yup, fuck that!

I’ve already crunched the [debatable] numbers and taken a closer look at how much the average letting agent charges… it ain’t pretty. According to my feeble calculations, for a BTL that achieves £750PCM, you’re looking at around £1.8k per annum. Truly eye-watering. That could feed a family of 50 for 500 years and some.

Secondly (and perhaps more crucial than the whole price issue), a fully managed service doesn’t actually resolve or alleviate any of my workload (and I think this is what many landlords overlook), or at least, not proportionality to the price-tag. So, if my life doesn’t get noticeably better/easier after purchasing a product which is meant to do exactly those things, then side-stepping the offer, like a date that won’t put-out after footing the bill for a steak dinner, becomes an obvious no-brainer. Right?

Don’t get me wrong, we all purchase products and services to make our lives easier because they fulfil tasks that are utterly beneath us. For example, I could rather easily pluck away at my own monobrow with my own delicate hands instead of splashing out on Mable, my beautician. Sure, the finish wouldn’t be as precise, but I could do a reasonable enough job to ‘pass’. I’m not talking about those scenarios. What I’m talking about is paying for a service that wouldn’t actually make any noticeable difference to our lives if it ceased to exist. That’s just a complete waste of money.

How managed services usually work in real-life (which usually doesn’t match up to expectations)

  • Repairs & Maintenance
    Many landlords are a bit mental with their unrealistic expectations with ‘fully managed’ services, because they think they’re buying hand-over of responsibility and ‘complete silence’.

    I’m not even blaming agents for basing their sales-pitch around that nugget of bullshit, because it defies common sense, so no one should even expect it, even if they’re sold it.

    Even though you’re paying for a managed service, there’s ALWAYS going to be an element of management required, or at least ‘decision making’ … unless you’re happy coasting along and relying on the whim of an agent, which could result in throwing 20k on repairing a leaking tap via their recommended suppliers.

    The average sane landlord won’t give complete control to agents to orchestrate repairs and maintenance issues, because we want to ensure the issues are legitimate and the quotes aren’t laughable before giving the nod.

    Sadly, many landlords initially give their agent ‘complete control’, but that soon changes after they get a whiff of how much is deducted from the rent to cover basic repair work… and then begins the frantic search for the dumb-asshole who green-lighted that crap. Well, IT WAS YOU!!

    Needless to say, after that sting, landlords generally start to pay attention and demand the ability to moderate and approve all maintenance issues. Eventually what ends up happening is that the landlord realises that the whole ‘fully managed’ gig doesn’t really equate to ‘silence’.

  • Good tenants don’t need managing
    Most high-street agents will argue that you should use their “tenant-find” service because they’re trained experts at referencing and finding awesome tenants, and you’re not. At best, you’re an untrained dick-weasel.

    “Leave it to the experts, dick-weasel”

    So, if the agents are experts at finding good tenants (and you’re not), then why would we need to splash out on a fully managed service?

    So my point is, by definition a “good tenant” is someone that pays rent on time, takes care of your property, and is generally courteous and respectful. Why would I need to pay someone to manage someone so utterly delightful?

    They either find you a shit tenant that needs managing, or they find you a good one that doesn’t. Which one is it?

  • Rent Collection service
    Continuing from my previous point; if you’re benefiting from the perks of having a good tenant, ‘rent collection’ is usually what your ‘fully managed service’ boils down to, so you’re really just paying a stupid amount for a ‘money transfer’ service. Yup, it’s real hard to find value in that.

    Hindsight is a bitch. I’m still reluctant to accept that I was actually paying someone a disgusting amount to do that. But fair play to the agent, they legally ripped me a new asshole while laughing to the bank.

    But what happens in the worst case scenario, when the tenant falls into arrears? The agent will chase up the tenant, maybe a couple of times. But that’s about ALL the agent can do; they won’t be able to ‘force’ the tenant to pay if they don’t want to. Not anymore than you can, anyways.

  • Responsibility always leads back to one person
    It doesn’t matter how much money you throw at a premium service, any problem of significance will navigate its way back onto your hairy little shoulders. Your agent will not be held accountable or lose sleep over your clumsy tenant, or the fact that you haven’t complied with the latest legislation. It’s all on you.

    Again, this comes back to lack of common sense and a warped reality of what landlords expect from a fully managed service. Agents don’t stop or prevent problems, they mostly just act as the middle-man and negotiate in resolving problems. They don’t have access to greater powers, because we’re all wielded by the same landlord laws.

  • Paying premium prices for a service that isn’t really premium
    Whenever I’ve shit myself about agent prices in the past, a common defence is the emphasise on how much time they spend on resolving problems for their clients (the landlords). For example, to arrange a repair, there’s a lot of back-and-forth between the tenant, the landlord and suppliers. That all eats into time, which needs to be accounted for.

    I get it, and I agree. Everyone should get paid for their precious time.

    I’m not disputing the amount of time an agent may (or may not) spend on managing a property, my issue is with the ROI (i.e. what I’m actually paying for).

    When I pay an electrician to fix my sack of broken vibrators, I’m paying for his time and skill. But when I’m paying an agent to orchestrate a repair, I’m not actually paying a premium for a skill, but I’m still paying premium prices for someone to ‘relay messages’. I’m being overly simplistic, but hopefully you get my point.

    To get true value, I’d either have to own a piece-of-garbage property which is constantly in disrepair and/or a shit-for-brains tenant that is overly demanding and a general pain in the ass. In any case, a fully managed service won’t resolve either of those problems, but you’ll at least get your moneys worth from the service. Of course, the true solution would be to refurb the property and/or get rid of the problem tenant. In the mean time, most agents aren’t ‘actively’ managing your property 24/7… because it typically ‘just works’ on autopilot. Most of the labour is done at the beginning of a tenancy, and most rudimentary ‘tenant-find’ packages covers that stretch of the relay.

When you should NOT use a fully managed service

  • Just because it feels like the ‘natural thing to do’
    As discussed, you don’t need to use a fully-managed service, so don’t just blindly opt for it because it seems like the natural step.
  • When the objective is to maximise profits
    Turning a profit in today’s climate is hard enough, and it’s only getting more difficult as our running costs are continuing to rocket. So if you want to stand a fighting chance, one of the best ways of achieving it is by running the show yourself, because one of the most crippling running costs are agent management fees.

    The whole ‘ditching the agent’ step may seem overwhelming, but that’s only what they want you to believe. FIGHT IT! Or at least, look into the other options. A good starting point would be to dive into my guide for new landlords.

  • When you have good tenants
    Yup, I firmly believe that most landlords are shitting money down the drain if they’re paying for a managed service while harbouring decent tenants.
  • If you’re generally rational, organised & have common sense
    I think a lot of novice landlords over-complicate the role of a landlord. It really isn’t that complicated, especially now more than ever, when information is so ridiculously easy to access.

    If you’re rational, organised & have a shred of common sense… you don’t need someone to manage the ship.

  • When you require ongoing support & guidance
    I’m guessing a bunch of landlords use managed services for the ongoing support and guidance, which includes keeping up with all the legalities. Being kept in the loop is important, and every sensible landlord will want to keep their finger on the pulse of the ever-changing landlord law.

    However, I personally don’t think agents are the best outlet for keeping up-to-date. Not only is their information often lousy, but they also have this annoying habit of transforming every newly introduced legislation into a needless money-making opportunity.

    If you’re looking for ongoing support, guidance and the need-to-know news, I recommend signing up to a reputable landlord association instead. Not only are they a hell of a lot cheaper, but they’re also able to provide much more reliable and accurate support.

    Don’t shoot the messenger, I’m just sayin’

  • Dealing with problem tenants, evictions and other legal issues
    As said, I think there’s a common misconception when it comes to understanding the actual role of a letting agent, and I’m saying that in defence of all agents, even the one’s in their Uncle’s oversized suit and greasy slicked-back hair.

    While they can offer a certain degree of support when dealing with tenants that need evicting, it’s important to note that they are not solicitors, nor are they [usually] qualified to give legal advice, and their managed service won’t typically include anything more than ‘middle-man’ correspondence and serving an eviction notice (which you can easily do yourself). So when landlords opt into a managed service because of the added perk of non-existent ‘specialist legal support’, they also may as well turn up to a knife fight with a banana.

    My point is, don’t sign on the dotted line if you’re looking for ongoing legal support from your agent in case shit hits the fan. They aren’t the best people to turn to in those situations, because most of the times they don’t even understand the law themselves. Their job is to manage your rental, not enforce the law. I’m often reminded of that when I look through the tenancy agreement contracts they use- they’re usually riddled with clauses which aren’t even enforceable because they contradict statutory law. A couple of classics are unfair ‘late payment fees’ and ludicrously early end of tenancy notification periods they require from tenants.

    At best, it’s embarrassing.

    In conclusion, if you’re dealing with problem tenants and eviction looks like it’s on the cards, whether you’re using a manged service or not, your best bet is to talk directly to a professional eviction company. They will know have a better understanding of the law and subsequently know how to deal with the situation most efficiently.

    FYI, readers’ of this blog have access to free landlord legal advice to help assist with problem tenants and evictions, more information over here on how to drain that resource!

  • When you think you can’t turn back for support…
    I really like this point…

    You can find a tenant and manage your property independently, and then if due to unforeseen circumstances (whatever they may be), you can easily find a local agent to assist and take over.

    However, if you use an agent from the offset to manage your property, and then realise you’re paying them for nothing, it’s not so easy to shake ’em loose. It’s kind of irreversible.

    Not only will you need to see out the contract terms (which is perfectly reasonable), but most agents will consider the tenant their ‘client’, so if you want to continue holding onto your tenant after cutting ties with the management service (which is typically always the case), you’re going to face an eternity of painful tenancy renewal fees and other potential legal complications.

    You think your mother in-laws face is bumpy, just wait until you get pulled through that storm.

    It’s really easy for an agent to take your money and provide you with support, but it’s incredibly difficult to get them to let go after that.

When you should use a fully managed service

It may seem like I’ve rendered a fully managed service as a total bullshit, but that’s not true.

So this is where I even out the argument, and make it clear that while it is a service a vast amount of landlords are paying for unnecessarily (which is the actual point of this blog post), it is still a service that will always be rightfully needed, and serves a genuine purpose…

  • Overseas/distant Landlords
    This makes total sense, and for obvious reasons.

    If you’re an overseas landlord or unable to access your property relatively easy due to geography, a fully-managed service is cool.

  • Portfolio landlords
    Assuming ‘managing’ isn’t the full-time occupation, a landlord with in a certain range of properties are well optimised for a fully managed service. But, I must emphasise, it makes most sense with in the confinement of a specific range, because at some point, a growing portfolio may require its own employee(s) to handle the entire management. Here’s more on landlords managing their own portfolios, and whether it’s the right option for you!
  • Zero communication with tenants
    Some landlords literally want ZERO communication with the tenant; they would rather shove their head in a blender, which also means they’re prepared to pay the big bucks to ensure it doesn’t have to be happen.

    I can actually understand that.

    Dealing with people can be soul-destroying. People are idiots.

  • 100% no hassle
    For those landlords that want absolutely no hassle, fully-managed may provide that peace. But let me be specific, because this could cause confusion, as earlier I said maintenance issues will always boomerang back round to the landlord, as will the responsibility.

    What I’m talking about here is granting the agent permission to make all the decisions and just ‘get on with it’ without the need to relay messages or tapping you on the shoulder for to day-to-day issues (minus emergency cases).

    I must stress though, ‘hassle-free bliss’ is a luxury, so it often costs a small fortune.

    Finding an agent that goes out of their way to find competitive rates for labour, and doesn’t add their own chunk on top, will be a challenge. I’ve heard they exist, so if you manage to unearth one, hold onto them for dear life (many of these awesome agents read this blog :) ).

  • No time or ambition to conduct routine & regular inspections
    If you’re not going to conduct regular inspections (for whatever reason), then paying through the nose for the managed service could give you a positive ROI. It’s worth the investment, in other words.

    Inspections are crucial, because they’re the best way to spot any early problems e.g. leaks, messy tenants, and illegal activities, like Pablo Escobar style cannabis farming.

    That said, make sure your agent DOES conduct inspections routinely (e.g. every quarter)! Many have been known to simply not bother.

Nothing against agents (at least, in this blog post) or fully managed services

I just want to re-clarify, I’m not going after agents or demonising fully-managed letting services. I’m just saying, many landlords opt for the premium fully-managed service needlessly, and it’s such a waste of time and money. But when purchased and utilised under the right circumstances, it’s all good.

However, if you’re sitting there now, paying through your big, fat nose for a fully-managed service, but only benefiting from a rent collection service, then you can probably realise that you’re not really getting a whole lot of bang for your buck.

Cheaper alternatives…

I feel this blog post would be incomplete without mentioning some honourable and modern day alternatives to the traditional high-street agent and their fully-managed services.

While it could be argued that the ever-growing list of online letting agents were initially targeting self-managing landlords that just want a cost-effective and easy way of finding tenants, that’s definitely no longer the case. And yes, while online agents’ Rightmove tenant-find packages is where they offer the real value (which high-street agents simply can’t compete with), it’s not stopping them from advancing their offerings, as they now appear to be attacking a larger portion of the market, including the management services. That said, I doubt they’ll ever be able to offer a completely fully managed service, because of the impracticality of arranging tenant viewings and property inspections, but they can offer somewhat of a ‘hybrid’ service that offers a much more palatable price-tag, which includes many of the ‘perks’ that you’d expect from managed services.

Here are a few very different offerings that standout by Upad, Letting A Property & No Agent, which operate on a month-by-month basis (online agents that I have no qualms with recommending).

I’m not going to pick my favourite, but No Agents price point deserves some attention- it’s pretty unbelievable (with or without the exclusive discount they tossed our way)!

Letting AgentPriceContractNotes / Includes
Price
£35pm*Inc VATPrice shown is before discount!

Discount Code available
Duration
Month by month
Notes / Includes

Solution for Fully Management Service!

Will market your property on Rightmove, Zoopla + more.

  • £0 up-front - nothing to pay until tenant moves in.
  • Pre-qualification of all tenants before viewing.
  • Full references & credit checks for tenants.
  • Tenancy agreement drafted and signed.
  • Viewings scheduled based on your availability (£108 for viewings conducted by one of our agents).
  • Rent collection service.
  • Full repair management using your contractors, getting you quotes or using our national provider
  • Inspections: full photographic reports after 3 months and then 6 months thereafter.
  • Access to legal helpline
  • 24/7 support phone support.
  • Online platform gives you visibility over your portfolio, including overseeing repairs, statements etc

*£45 for properties in London.

*50% Off the first 6 months using our exclusive link!

Visit Website50% Off the First 6 Months using link above!
Price
£59 + £89pmInc VATNormal price: £99 + £89pm

Discount Code available
Duration
Month by month
Notes / Includes

Solution for Rent Collection & Guarantee and Home Emergency Cover!

Will market your property on Rightmove, Zoopla + more.

  • Choice of either professional photos, EPC or a landlord gas safety certificate
  • Rent on time - paid to you even when the tenant doesn't pay
  • Property advertised live within 12 hours
  • Vetted tenant enquiries handled by real agents in our UK office 7 days per week
  • Tenants fully referenced (£90 payable by the tenant)
  • Drafting of a complete tenancy agreement with digital signatures
  • Registering and securing the tenancy deposit
  • Deposit Prescribed Information completed and issued
  • Continuous tenancy support from UKALA agents
  • Monthly rent management service with fast landlord payments
  • Legal expenses and tenant eviction cover
  • Home emergency cover
  • Assistance with deposit dispute resolution service
  • End of tenancy property re-advertising included
  • Read about my fantastic Experience With Letting A Property To Find Tenants
Visit Website£40 Discount Voucher
Price
£539 + £72pm*Inc VATNormal price: £599

Discount Code available
Duration
Month by month
Notes / Includes

Solution for Fully Management Service!

Will market your property on Rightmove, Zoopla + more.

  • Professional Photography and Floor Plans
  • Full tenant referencing
  • First month's collected rent for you
  • Deposit registration
  • Tenancy agreement drafted and signed
  • Ongoing agent support
  • Property management - all repairs and maintenance issues will be handled directly by Upad (i.e. a tenant will never need to contact you directly), and they will also deal with the utility companies and keep accurate records of all payments.

*Exclusive £60 discount code: FULLY60

Visit Website£60 Discount Code: FULLY60

Please note, I try my best to keep the information of each agent accurate and up-to-date, but you should read the T&C’s from the agents’ website for the most up-to-date information.

So, over to you, butt-munch! Feel free to share your thoughts and experiences with managed services; do you use a managed service, and how is it working out for you? Are you one of those landlords that are paying for an unused service?

Love & Peace xoxo

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35 Comments- Join The Conversation...

Guest Avatar
sheralyne 13th July, 2017 @ 06:43

Management is not for everyone. Many agents offer different packages to suite landlords needs.
I offer 3 and provide exactly what is offered. My reviews on facebook and my website speak for themsleves reviews are from landlords and tenants alike.
I am a small agent who runs my own business from home to keep the cost down for all. I do not have staff to assist with wages to pay, I do not run at a hugh profit either. I simply earn enough to give me a little spending money each month which is nowhere near the national wage limit but thats me I love my job and that is why I do it.
My landlords and landladies get exactly what is listed below.
The Standard Management Service Includes;
• Free Appraisal
• Advertising and generally marketing the Property on many websites along with Social
media sites.
• Interviewing prospective tenants and taking up full credit check, Present/Previous Landlord checks along with character references. When necessary additional checks would be requested by means of a guarantor.
• Accompanied Viewings
• Arrangement of all Safety Certificates include EPC
• Complete the Mandatory Landlord requirement for letting of the property
• Take a deposit from the tenant, and place the deposit under the requirement of Deposit Protection Scheme until the end of the tenancy. Once the property has been inspected for any damage with the exception of fair wear and tear with the tenant and Eden Property Lettings the DPS will be notified to return deposit minus any agreed monies for damage.
• Preparation of Assured Shorthold Tenancy agreement, renewing Tenancy agreement where necessary at the end of the tenancy term.
• Collection of rental income pcm and paying over to the Landlord (within 7 working days) less any fees or expenses due or incurred for the period. Payments will be made by Direct Bank Transfer and provide a monthly statement which will be forwarded to the Landlord,
• Take and notify (gas, electricity, water and local council) of meter readings and advising of the transfer of service to the tenant at the beginning and end of each tenancy.
• Carry out 8 weekly inspections to include full report to Landlord to include up to date photos if required.
• Conduct Move out inspection/inventory in preparation for new tenant to include up to date photos.
• Conduct with the Landlords consent the Mandatory Right to Rent checks.

All the above for a One off management payment of £125 and 10% of the monthly rental.

ALL AGENTS ARE NOT OUT TO GET RICH OF LANDLORDS SOME OF US JUST LOVE THE JOB

1
Guest Avatar
Lou 13th July, 2017 @ 07:04

Brilliant blog post! So true in every way.
I've been a landlord for ten years and have four properties. I started with a manager but then went solo after three years. I joined a well known landlord association (am I allowed to mention its name?) and for just £85 a year I get a plethora of fabulous support services, including all the documents and advice I need.
I'm fortunate to have been a tenant too. I use the word 'fortunate' as this has helped me to understand the other side of the coin. Now I'm a landlord and a manager I've been in all three roles. A bit of an eye-opener!
Anyway, I've only recently joined you guys and find your work immensely enjoyable and full of useful info. Thank you so much.

2
Guest Avatar
Katy whittall 13th July, 2017 @ 07:38

I agree with your blog. I do have a couple of points to add about agents.

Credit Checks by agents are often limited to - Are they on the electoral roll? and do they have a CCJ? - oh and can they produce a reference from a previous landlord - which could easily be their mate down the pub as no investigation is done to prove the validity of that reference. They might do an employers reference but that often isn't worth the paper it's written on either. I know a tenant - not mine fortunately - who passed their processes with a 100k of gambling debt and a zero hours employment contract. Easily done.

Another issue with some agents is - they always keep the tenants they believe are the best for their managed properties. If you just have a tenant finder service - you will get second best tenants, as they won't be dealing with them in the future.

3
Guest Avatar
Agnes Bruna 13th July, 2017 @ 07:56

I live abroad for long periods of time but have always managed without a letting agent. I like your blog, it sets out the pros and cons very clearly. And you are right, when things go wrong, it always comes back to the Landlord anyway. Maybe there should be letting agents who only deal with the finding of tenants and the beginning of a tenancy? After which we can normally manage by ourselves.

4
Guest Avatar
Nige 13th July, 2017 @ 09:06

A lot depends on the agent you choose. There are many :new start: agencies who really have no clue and have pretty signwriting on their new minis.
I have a friend who has been in the agency business for more years than she will admit and has grown up with the multitude of changes. She worked for a very long established agent (small but well respected) . She lost her job after 2 large landlords took their portfolios away. So in desperation to pay her mortgage she took a lower position in a very large estate agent/letting agent.
Oh the stories she tells me of 20 year old office girls who are paid more than she is and they really haven't got a clue.
The number of times she has to whisper in their ears that they cannot do this or that because regs have changed.
Basically the agency will take anyone who smiles nicely and promises to pay the rent which ends up with all the associated problems.

My daughter uses the old agency and in 5 years has only had minor repairs which are carried out by yours truely but that house is in as good condition as the day it was let. The reason being that the old school agency was not in a rush to stick anyone who smiles into the property and creates an impartial buffer between landlord and tenant. Its much easier because they are not ;friends; and if the tenant says the door handle fell off. Yeah Yeah. the tenant is told to fix it or the agent will charge. So using this particular agent means a very good buffer for my daughter.

Story of the week.
I was in my local corner shop where the owner is a landlord.
In front of me is a woman. Bags of sweets, cans of lager, crisps, fags and a bottle of vodka. Total £28.
When she left the shopkeeper says to me that she is one of his tenants who hasn't paid rent since xmas and the bailiffs are evicting her in 3 days time. The bare faced cheek of spending money on booze etc and laughing in the face of the landlord knowing there is little he can do. At least he recouped some money through the sales.

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Guest Avatar
CBG 13th July, 2017 @ 09:50

I fell for it, it felt like the right thing to do. I had bad nonpayer they couldn't do any more than I, in fact even less than I could've done to collect the money I am still owed if i didn't have Fully managed (CCJ). Now I have great tenants soo what am I paying for? Its so sad.
Now I feel stuck I want to get rid of the agents but don't know how to without losing the good tenants. Will you write an advice blog on that? What about selling a place with Tenants in vs eviction to sell as vacant?

6
Guest Avatar
Benji 13th July, 2017 @ 11:19

Wow! 6000 words on letting agents and not one mention of the biggest change in years that will change the face of the industry- Banning tenant fees.

Good to see you're on the pulse.

7
The Landlord Avatar
The Landlord 13th July, 2017 @ 11:31

Oh dear, I received a disgruntled email from someone that was deeply offended by my comment regarding putting-out after footing the bill :/

She's no longer a reader/subscriber of my blog.

Is everyone else ok? Benji, you ok (minus your beef with my flimsy coverage)?

8
The Landlord Avatar
The Landlord 13th July, 2017 @ 11:34

Hi @ sheralyne

I'm definitely not questioning your service, or any other agent's service. I'm sure you do a fine job and offer real value. And I totally agree, not all agents are out to get rich off landlords.

However, that was never point. I was just saying that landlords often pay (a lot) for a service they don't need or use.

9
The Landlord Avatar
The Landlord 13th July, 2017 @ 11:39

Hi @ Lou,

Thanks, appreciate it :)

Of course you're allowed to mention the association. And yes, they can be so useful!

I'm a fan of crediting where credit is due (when it's genuine).

10
The Landlord Avatar
The Landlord 13th July, 2017 @ 11:44

Hi @ Katy whittall,

Ahh yeah, good points.

I've written a post on the whole issue of some agents providing laughable credit checks- I question whether or not they're even worth anything. I always think landlords should do their own checks, or at least interrogate/confirm the methods their agent uses.

I can't personally verify your second point regarding agents keeping the best tenants, but I wouldn't be surprised at all, and it makes perfect sense. I've had high-street agents provide me with some real dud tenants when I was only using their 'tenant-find' service!

Thanks for your comment.

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Benji 13th July, 2017 @ 11:46

Must confess I was also deeply offended by your extravagance in splashing out on a steak dinner to get your evil way.

What's wrong with a kebab?

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Bigmax 13th July, 2017 @ 11:58

Excellent piece Mr Landlord......I too got caught by the agent, it was my first rental and I wanted to do right by my prospective tennant. BIG MISTAKE - 12 months of pure hell from the agents (one of the larger names in the high street)! - crap ..well non existant service and to top it all they made my tennant pay 6 months in advance due to her being a new divorcee and having no references...so no work for them!

She then did not pay the second 6 months on time, they never even chased her or told her the payment date was due! Hence their first experience of me hammering on their door and threatening death to all inside.

She did pay and is still my tenant - we have sorted matters out and it seems they treated her abysmally also!

I sacked them and made a formal complaint that rolled on for 12 months...eventually getting half of the management fees back. I could have gone further but was just so fed up with it.

My opinion - and this is based on using another high street big company of agents to find a tennant for my second rental property as well - steer well clear of agents they are all bent, I haven't found one I could even start to trust yet!

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The Landlord 13th July, 2017 @ 12:11

Hi @ Agnes Bruna,

Thanks, appreciate it :)

As sheralyne said (comment #1), most high-street agents can provide tailored packages, so you should be able to negotiate a 'tenancy sign-up package' of some sort.

Not to keep pushing Upad, but they also offer a package which sounds similar to what you're describing, a tenant sign-up service, which includes: credit checks, tenancy agreements, deposit registration, first month's rent collection, and setting up a standing order mandate, for £170 Inc VAT (you should be able to use the £50 discount voucher, which will make it £120).

So back to my point, there are always options available.

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The Landlord 13th July, 2017 @ 12:19

@Nige
"A lot depends on the agent you choose", no doubt about it. However, it can be aspirating separating the wheat from the chaff, and by the time you've done it (after plenty of trial and error), you've usually already lost a small fortune.

Haha, nice story of the week. Unfortunately, not surprising at all, though. The audacity of people baffle me every day!

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The Landlord 13th July, 2017 @ 12:28

Hi @ CBG,

Ahh, sorry to hear that. I think you pretty much summed up my 20,000 word blog post in a couple of sentence! You pretty much highlighted the main issues with fully managed services, in my opinion.

I think your current situation depends on a couple of variables, but mainly how reasonable your agent is and what your contract with the agent stipulates. An agents stance on this situation can drastically vary.

Have you tried speaking to them directly? They might be cool about it...

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The Landlord 13th July, 2017 @ 12:32

@Benji

3,000 ACTUALLY! GET A CLUE, DUMBO!

I didn't think the tenant-fee ban was actually relevant to my blog post, which is ultimately about 1) there are other options than going fully managed for new landlords 2) many landlords pay for a managed service when they don't even use it.

Plus, the tenant fee ban will apply to both online and high-street agents.

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The Landlord 13th July, 2017 @ 12:39

@Benji
See, that's the difference between you and I; I date the kind of women that will only put out after a steak meal, or at least a meal of that calibre. They're called 'classy women'

You, on the other hand, busy loitering around Wetherspoons for drunken scraps, who consider a £5 greasy kebab an equivalent to caviar.

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CBG 13th July, 2017 @ 12:39

'how reasonable your agent is' - hahahaah i am going to refer you to all your posts about the Agent being utterly utterly useless.

'Have you tried speaking to them directly? They might be cool about it...'
Speaking to the Agents? I think I better dig out my contract with them and see the 'Escape from Hell clause'

Speaking to the Tenants? - uh i am now thinking of asking them if they want to buy the house from me before i look at selling. (not via my current letting agent thats for sure.)

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rachel 13th July, 2017 @ 12:41

i pay for a fully managed gold star service from a highly recommended and recognised high street letting and estate agent. the tenant i have at the moment gave notice to quit and was expected to - and indeed did carry out viewings for any prospective new tenant. i find this really disconcerting as it opens up the opportunity for abuse and was wondering if this is standard practice.

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The Landlord 13th July, 2017 @ 13:00

Hi @ Bigmax,

Thank you :)

Generally, the bigger and well known agents are the ones that offer the most sloppy service. I'd rather go for a small independent agent any day of the week. Plus, they don't have as much capital to throw at any legal battles, so are more usually more inclined to resolve problems.

Great to hear you got some of the money back (albeit, after what sounds like a long and frustrating process), that is usually unheard of! Inspiration for all in similar situations.

Thanks again.

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The Landlord 13th July, 2017 @ 13:06

Hi @CBG,

Ha, in my defence, I do always add a disclaimer, saying that not all agents are the same (while quietly making the point that any landlord/tenant will have their work cut out to find a decent one, though).

Yeah, best bet is to shuffle through the T&C's first, and then think of a game plan to escape their hold. You never know, you might hit the jackpot- their T&C's might be unconventional :)

In my opinion, if a landlord plans on selling, they should always give the tenant first dibs, even if only out of courtesy. And also, plenty of notice. From a legal standpoint, the tenants can't stop you either way.

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The Landlord 13th July, 2017 @ 13:08

Hi @rachel,

I'm not sure if I fully understand. So are you saying that the tenant took the viewings (I hope I didn't understand correctly)? :O

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Lou 13th July, 2017 @ 13:32

Thanks for allowing me to mention the association I joined, the Residential Landlords Association (RLA). The manager I used at the start of my landlordship did a good job and seemed on the ball. It was just that, like many others, I looked at what I was paying for and thought 'I could do that'. Information is key, so I looked for a group/body to join so that I could learn. The RLA run courses and I did the lettings course, which I learned so much from. A bi-monthly magazine, loads of resources online, a forum and someone at the end of the phone is well worth the membership fee. I'd say to anyone entering the world of property letting - keep your options open and do your homework. Read blogs like this and the conversation that follows. Being well informed is part of your armour.

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Caroline 13th July, 2017 @ 14:17

I have successfully renovated and found tenants for three properties, all managed with my hubby's diy skills and my diligent internet research on property management, including this brilliant site where I gained the knowledge and confidence to go it alone without an agent.(I did advertise via openrent, again found on this site, who's services were exceptional).I have now purchased a property via auction with a sitting tenant which has been managed via an agency.

I rang them to advise of a change of ownership and to try and get some details from them, but they were very vague. I decided to contact the tenant direct, even though I am yet to complete on the property, I wanted a heads up of what to expect. The lady tenant advised me she has been in the property 10 years and has never seen an agent at the property. She was called into the office in February this year to sign a new 6 month contract due to the property being put up for sale, she signed her previous contract in 2008.

I am told that there is a lot of updating to do and will see the property for the first time this evening ( no internal viewing prior to auction), luckily I expected this and paid well below market value.

I am just so surprised that a large (supposedly reputable) high street agency has done nothing with this property for 10 years, she hasn't even had a rent increase, which will come as a shock to her when we discuss new terms once the property is renovated.

I am so glad I am self managing, a little difficult sorting the first property,making sure everything was done, but then simple to replicate procedures for each subsequent property.

Thanks again for all your postings of help, advice and useful links to other sites, I was so close to using an agent till I found you, disaster avoided!

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Borrieboy 13th July, 2017 @ 16:42

I've got 3 places that I've had now over 10 years and never used a managed service. I've been abroad for the last couple of years and still don't bother with managed. Once you have reliable people to do stuff for you - painters/decrtrs, plumbers, sparks etc. then the task is much easier. I do come over every few weeks as it doesn't cost a shed-load, and check my places when here. So far, so good, and at, say, 8% fee for a total income of around £20k equals a saving over 10 years of........£160k....!!!!

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The Landlord 14th July, 2017 @ 09:01

@Lou

RLA are one of the most popular, along with the other two big ones, which are Guild of Residential Landlords and NLA. To be honest, I've heard good things about all three of them.

Thanks for sharing, I'm sure other landlords will find it useful to know you've had a positive and worthwhile experiencing with an association.

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The Landlord 14th July, 2017 @ 09:13

@Caroline
Oh nice. Great story/experience, and I'm pleased and thankful to hear that my ramblings have helped you along the way.

I'm not sure how surprised I am that the tenant has been undisturbed for 10 years, although it's flippin' crazy! But I'm definitely not surprised to hear that agent is a large agency. Many of them manage so many properties that it almost becomes impossible to service them all properly.

I guess both the landlord and agent were just happy she was paying rent. No doubt, horrendous service by the agent, but equally, the previous landlord also sounds incompetent.

In any case, hopefully your experience will encourage other landlords to self-manage. When landlords actually do cross over, I mostly just hear sighs of relief.

Once again, thanks for sharing, and good luck with your new purchase.

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The Landlord 14th July, 2017 @ 09:48

@Borrieboy
Yup, £16k, that's stupid money to throw at agents over a 10 year period!

I agree, having reliable people at your disposable is key. But it's not always easy to find those people. If you're living abroad, the key is also having properties in good repair, which need little maintenance.

Awesome to hear it's all going well for you, and another reminder that even if you live far away from your property, you still don't need to splash out on fully-managed services (if you have the right pillars in place).

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Richard Manning 15th July, 2017 @ 10:51

Absolutely brilliant presentation of the "property management traps" offered by (generally incompetent) letting agents and other money-grabbers. BTL landlords! Essential you keep up to date with the excellent work you are doing in this field. And, perhaps too, find out more about the upcoming "UKLA: UK Landlords Alliance" project.

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Luke 15th July, 2017 @ 20:05

Have been letting for four years, first property bought with tenant, next two I used tenant find, last one I used UPAD through one of your discount vouchers. Manage all of them myself and always have as they are all in good condition & I have trusted tradesmen it's a small effort v. Big savings !! Also enjoy keeping them up to scratch and managing them myself. Would not even use tenant find service again best to vet all the tenants yourself ... and using UPAD saves me 100's £££ ...

Get good tenants and keep properties up to date and you can manage yourself easily :-)

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The Landlord 16th July, 2017 @ 09:37

Hi @ Richard Manning,

Thanks Richard, appreciate it :)

I Googled for "[UKLA] UK Landlords Alliance" but couldn't find anything on it. I'm assuming it's another association-type-thing. In any case, once it starts surfacing (whatever it is), I'm sure I'll get wind of it.

Thanks again.

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The Landlord 16th July, 2017 @ 09:40

Hi @ Luke,
Great to hear.

Agreed! I think the general consensus is that if you have good tenants, a property in good condition and have trusted contacts, self-managing should be a stroll in the park.

Pleased to hear you took advantage of those Upad discount vouchers, I've only ever heard good things about their service (and that's why I have no problem endorsing them).

Thanks for sharing :)

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BBN Network 11th August, 2017 @ 14:59

It's not the cheapest, but if you can afford it, why not. Peace of mind

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Kaz 7th October, 2017 @ 16:26

Hi I have a fully managed property, as I felt it would be easier, However, I have ran into a slightly different issue... Each time the agency emails me to say there is a problem and they have got quotes, I promtly reply stating if it needs doing get it done, new windows in conservatory as 3 large ones were misting up, shower leak requiring tiles taken down and refitted, toilet leak, sink leak, tree issue etc.My latest issue is in January this year they send me a quote for lifting the floor of the bathroom at a cost of £600c as water had swollen the boards underneath and tiles needed relaying. It appeared that the tiles came lose some 6 weeks later as the guy did a crap job, neither the tenant or the agency can get hold of the guy and the agency now says that the contract was with me and him, sent me his number and told me to try chasing him!! I have said that I think they will find the contract is with them as I never instructed the tradesman directly they did, I didn't know who he was. They had a guy from the agency (with a trade contracting background) to go and check the floor and he tried saying it was the toilet leak and the sink leak that probably did it, I pointed out that they were both over 2 months after the tenants had reported to them the floor tiles had lifted again. So now apparently I should pay a further £600 and chase the tradesman they instructed, surely this is not correct??

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