Cheap Lettings Management For Portfolio Landlords

Property Portfolio Management

There used to be a terrible time in history when portfolio landlords – especially those with properties scattered all over the place – were limited to either self-managing their own portfolio of rental properties, or using multiple high-street letting agents to do so on their behalf.

The reality of either solution has always been less than ideal, because self-managing multiple properties around the country can be a royal pain in the ass (least of all practical), and using multiple agents can be chaotic and devastatingly expensive.

Fortunately, in today’s digital age, technology has been able to provide a third option, which allows portfolio landlords to use one management agency to manage their entire portfolio for a lot less.

Welcome to the world of online lettings agents [portfolio management edition].

Table of contents:

The dramatic switch to Online Services

The whole “online letting agent” phenomena isn’t a particularly new trend anymore, in fact, landlords have been ditching traditional high-street letting agents for online agents for the past decade, and saving a buttload of money in the process (the primary basis of their appeal). However, while many of us have been won over by online agents, it hasn’t stopped them from evolving, bridging the gap on the products and services that only high-street agents were once able to provide.

If you’re scratching your head, blissfully unaware of what an online letting agent is, I encourage you to read my comprehensive guide on online letting agents.

The earliest iterations of the online letting agency model was purely for the average, every day self-managing landlord, who simply requiring ‘tenant find’ services, with the primary feature being a quick and easy way of getting their rental advertised on Rightmove and Zoopla in order to generate enquiries from prospective tenants.

But today, there are online agents that have taken giant leaps forward, and are able to provide all the services that you’d expect from a local high-street agent offering fully-managed services, plus more, including:

Essentially, online agents are able to provide services from A-Z, making their service suitable for not only those that want a cost-effective tenant-find solution, but also a fully-managed service, which is why they’re now becoming incredibly popular amount portfolio landlords.

What is a portfolio landlord?

Okay, just so there’s no confusion, the general consensus is that a ‘portfolio landlord’ is someone with four or more rental properties. Although, I have seen definitions which insist it’s five properties. Either way, the difference is trivial.

Why Portfolio Landlords use Online Letting Agents

Ultimately, there are three bold reasons for why portfolio landlords are using online management solutions:

  • One online agent can manage all properties across the country
  • Online agents can offer a wider range of flexible packages, loaded with tonnes more features
  • Much cheaper than traditional high-street agents. Online agents generally charge fixed monthly fees as opposed charging a percentage of the rent, which also seems to be very appealing.
  • Unlike with high-street agents, you won’t be tied into any lengthy contracts, because they operate on monthly contract agreements. Yup, that’s a beautiful thing.

One of the biggest selling points of using an online fully managed letting service is the fixed fee aspect, especially if your property(ies) demands a particularly large rate, because unlike traditional high-street letting agents, the monthly rate is fixed, and not based on a percentage of the rental income. So a property that receives £5,000 PCM will pay the same low-rate as one that receives £100 PCM.

I won’t cover why those perks are possible with an online agent, because I’ve already covered it in the guide I linked to earlier, but know that it’s real.

But I will say one thing to those that want to swerve the in-depth guide, and aren’t entirely sure how online agents works: the premise is that online agents work from a central office, they don’t have a high-street presence (i.e. a local branch you can walk into), instead they operate from one centralised office, and make all their sales via their website and over the phone, and also provide all their support to landlords and tenants over the phone and email. Ultimately, that means they have much lower overheads compared to high-street agents, which is precisely why they’re able to provide a nationwide service, and offer much cheaper solutions for managing properties. Like, massively cheaper.

Online Fixed Fee Property Portfolio Management Companies

There are quite a few online agents offering managed services these days, but just to give you an idea of what you can expect, I have hand-picked a few varying levels of packages offered by what I believe to the best online agents currently around. I’ll be sure to keep the list updated if anything changes.

These agents and packages aren’t just exclusive to portfolio landlords, they’re suitable for any residential landlord, from one property to a boatload.

Search Filters

Require any of the following?

  • Tenant-find service

    Tenant-find serviceThe premium listing is a popular upgrade which increases exposure to your Rightmove listing by highlighting it in the search results. Rightmove say Premium listings on average 35% more click-throughs than regular listings.

    X

  • Hosted viewings

    Hosted viewingsA local agent will take viewings and show potential tenants around your property. Please note, some agents limit how many viewings they will take, so please read the T&C's carefully.

    X

  • Rent collection

    Rent collectionAgent will collect rent from tenant and then send it to you.

    X

  • Inventory service

    Inventory serviceThe agent will arrange for an independent inventory clerk to create an inventory report.

    X

  • 24/7 customer service

    24/7 customer service24/7 customer support available.

    X

  • Home emergency cover

    Home emergency coverHome Emergency insurance cover is a policy protecting against unexpected incidents such as leaks, boiler breakdowns, loss of keys and sudden loss of electrical or gas supply.

    X

  • Rent protection / guarantee

    Rent protection / guaranteeIncludes some form of rent guarantee and/or protection, so you're protected against rent arrears.

    X

  • Repairs & maintenance management

    Repairs & maintenance managementAgent will manage repairs and maintenance issues.

    X

  • Routine inspection(s)

    Routine inspection(s)Agent will conduct routine inspection(s).

    X

  • Eviction support

    Eviction supportAgent will support and/or manage end of tenancies and evictions.

    X

  • Legal compliance & assistance

    Legal compliance & assistanceAgent will assist with any legal matters and help comply with your landlord legal obligations.

    X

Recommended Online Property Portfolio Management Companies
Letting AgentRatingContractIncludes / NotesPrice
Rating
4.9
Google Reviews
Duration
Month by month
Includes / Notes

Basic package
  • Key features
  • Tenant-find service
  • Rent collection
  • Eviction support
More details

*Price breakdown

  • £39 / month + one time £99 setup fee

More features included

  • Advert on Rightmove & Zoopla
  • Tenant fully referenced
  • Holding deposit service
  • Digital tenancy agreement
  • Ongoing rent management
  • Legal & eviction cover
PricePER MONTH*£39 Inc VAT
FIRST YR TOTAL £567
Visit Website
Rating
4.8
TrustPilot Reviews
Duration
Month by month
Includes / Notes

Silver package
  • Key features
  • Tenant-find service
  • Rent collection
  • Legal compliance & assistance
More details

Price breakdown

  • £45 / month + £79 + £39 listing/setup fee

More features included

  • Advertise on 50 property portals such as Zoopla and Primelocation, until let complete
  • Tenant fully referenced
  • Professional photography & floor plans
  • Digital tenancy agreement
  • Ongoing rent management
  • Deposit registration
  • Carbon monoxide & smoke alarm test
  • Rent collection
  • Legal assistance
Price

Discount available

PER MONTH*£45 Inc VAT
FIRST YR TOTAL £579Inc discount

Visit Website£40 Discount Code: 99PIP40
Rating
4.9
Google Reviews
Duration
Month by month
Includes / Notes

Essential package
  • Key features
  • Tenant-find service
  • Rent collection
  • Rent protection / guarantee
  • Eviction support
  • Legal compliance & assistance
More details

Price breakdown

  • £59 / month + one time £99 setup fee

More features included

  • Advert on Rightmove & Zoopla
  • Tenant fully referenced
  • Holding deposit service
  • Digital tenancy agreement
  • Ongoing rent management
  • Legal & eviction cover
  • Essential rent protection
  • Deposit dispute resolution
  • Health & safety cover
  • Property legal disputes
PricePER MONTH*£59 Inc VAT
FIRST YR TOTAL £807
Visit Website
Rating
4.8
TrustPilot Reviews
Duration
Month by month
Includes / Notes

Gold package
  • Key features
  • Tenant-find service
  • Rent collection
  • Inventory service
  • Repairs & maintenance management
  • Routine inspection(s)
  • Legal compliance & assistance
More details

Price breakdown

  • £85 / month + £79 + £39 listing/setup fee

More features included

  • Advertise on 50 property portals such as Zoopla and Primelocation, until let complete
  • Tenant fully referenced
  • Professional photography & floor plans
  • Digital tenancy agreement
  • Ongoing rent management
  • Deposit registration
  • Carbon monoxide & smoke alarm test
  • Rent collection
  • Legal assistance
  • Gas safety check
  • Inventory report
Price

Discount available

PER MONTH*£85 Inc VAT
FIRST YR TOTAL £1059Inc discount

Visit Website£40 Discount Code: 99PIP40
Rating
4.9
Google Reviews
Duration
Month by month
Includes / Notes

Complete package
  • Key features
  • Tenant-find service
  • Rent collection
  • Home emergency cover
  • Rent protection / guarantee
  • Eviction support
  • Legal compliance & assistance
More details

Price breakdown

  • £99 / month + one time £99 setup fee

More features included

  • Advert on Rightmove & Zoopla
  • Tenant fully referenced
  • Holding deposit service
  • Digital tenancy agreement
  • Ongoing rent management
  • Legal & eviction cover
  • Deposit dispute resolution
  • Health & safety cover
  • Property legal disputes
  • Complete rent protection
  • Home emergency cover
  • Complimentary tenancy renewals
  • Complimentary readvertising
PricePER MONTH*£99 Inc VAT
FIRST YR TOTAL £1287
Visit Website

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

If you have a particularly large portfolio, I would take the prices shown above as guide prices only, because you’re likely to benefit from additional discounts if you contact the agents directly (you may even get a better discount if you mention that you were referring by PropertyInvestmentProject. Just saying).

Do you really need to use a portfolio management service?

It depends!

I guess it really boils down to your personal circumstances and your appetite for graft.

If you’re currently at the cross-roads and contemplating whether you should or shouldn’t use a portfolio management service (whether it an online solution or local management agency), perhaps it’s also worth going over some of the advantages of self-managing (since I’ve covered the advantages):

  • The obvious benefit is the thousands and thousands of pounds that will be saved annually on management fees (of course, everyone’s time and energy should also have a price, and that’s something you shouldn’t neglect).
  • Managing your own properties will give you more control and often result in better decisions!
  • If you like keeping busy and being in the thick of your empire, then there’s no better place than sitting at the helm!

However, it’s also worth asking yourself the following questions before making your decision:

  • Can you afford to employ a management service?

    If you’re running on super tight margins, you might be better off doing it all yourself.

  • Do you have the time?
    Managing a large portfolio of properties ain’t no joke! It can be pain-painstakingly time consuming, so it’s worth considering whether a) you have the time to manage the properties and b) if you’re prepared to spend less time on other activities that you may enjoy more.
  • How will managing a portfolio of properties impact the quality of your life?
  • Does it make more sense to split the responsibility?
    If you own a particularly large portfolio, it might be worth relinquishing control of a small portion of your portfolio to an agency and then assessing the situation.

    This drip-feed approach will allow you to determine whether you want to unload more responsibilities, or even claw some back, depending on finances and other extenuating circumstances.

An alternative solution to outsourcing is to actually employ someone local to manage all of your properties. It could be cheaper (depending on the size of your portfolio) and also working with one in-house agent would allow for a much more controlled and streamlined operation. Once again, it’s about weighing up the costs and being able to find the right person for the job.

Right, I’m done!

Your thoughts and questions welcome!

9 Join the Conversation...

Guest Avatar
Sam 14th August, 2010 @ 18:16

I set up my own agency to manage my own properties - but even if I had less properties I would still employ someone to do it for me. I employ people who like people - that way people like dealing with each other (and hopefully enjoy living in my properties!).

1
The Landlord Avatar
The Landlord 17th August, 2010 @ 08:34

Ahh Sam, I had no idea that's why you started your own agency. Good to know!

I actually think that could be the best option, if you can be bothered! :)

2
Guest Avatar
Sam 19th August, 2010 @ 06:50

Yes much better! To be honest if you can be bothered to buy houses you should be bothered with how they will be tenanted and managed as that's how you're going to earn your dosh :).

PS. you seen my new blog - http://www.whatsamsawtoday.com/ Confessions of a Property Developer.

3
Guest Avatar
Jeff 1st September, 2010 @ 17:51

Have you considered hiring a company in India to manage everything, shop around for the best deal, and employ individuals in each area on a case-by-case basis? That's my plan. They're available 24/7, and you can set rules for when and at what thresholds to contact you (i.e., if it's a reasonable cost and is less than $200, I don't want to hear about it).

4
Guest Avatar
Sam 2nd September, 2010 @ 07:38

Sounds interesting - have you got any recommendations?

5
Guest Avatar
Jeff 2nd September, 2010 @ 12:08

I read about them in Tim Ferriss' book, the 4-hour work week. One company is brickworkindia.com, and another is yourmaninindia.com. They can do some pretty advanced stuff with legal work or business planning, but at a very basic level they're a really, really cheap secretary that can do everything from taking calls and answering emails based on your instructions to booking your vacations (holidays).

6
Guest Avatar
Sam 2nd September, 2010 @ 20:22

sounds interesting - I loved Tim's book about out-sourcing your life :)

7
Guest Avatar
Mohammad Jawwad Khan 11th September, 2020 @ 15:19

Can check rentbunk.com and do a review on them?

8
The Landlord Avatar
The Landlord 14th September, 2020 @ 11:13

Hi Mohammad,

Bear with me, I'm on it!

I'm currently in communication with them (actually, I have been for several months now). I'm just trying to understand their product better, so once they get back to me I'll let you know. There are still a few things I don't understand about their service.

Many thanks.

9
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