This post is aimed at landlords thinking of using a letting agent for managing their rental property. I’m writing this with 12 years of experience of dealing with letting agents (in London) and speaking with landlords, I’ve also worked at property companies involved with property management.
Flawed business model
The essence of any business model is to create and deliver value. Letting agents do the opposite; they overcharge for a service that deteriorates your property, annoys tenants and creates stress for you (the landlord).
Examples of incompetence
Here are a few examples (I could list many) of the incompetence I encountered while working with letting agents (mostly PurpleBricks and Winkworth letting agency). These examples aren’t unique to me; fundamentally, letting agents don’t care about your property.
After paying to have curtains hung in the bedrooms it wasn’t possible to open the windows due to the curtain poles being installed inside the bay windows!
The letting agent at the time (Winkworth) recommended an integrated washing machine replacement after the previous one had broken down. Not only did they buy a washing machine too big (it sticks out), they also threw away the fitted kitchen door that used to be on my *flush* washing machine! Instead of using ao.com, I was charged for installation and disposal of the old washing machine.
I’m sure PurpleBricks letting agency has the biggest database of cowboy builders out there. I had a replacement bathroom floor installed and on closer inspection the quality of workmanship was shocking; tiles cut unevenly, big gaps around the edges and sealant shovelled on with what looks like a spoon!
After a series of issues I had with PurpleBricks letting agency which included their Finance department being unaware of tenants not paying the rent, it became apparent they had also lost the keys to my property.
Letting agents aren’t cheap, I was paying 10% of my gross rental income for full property management. It’s bad enough that you’re paying for a terrible service but you also get ripped off with repair work. The quotes (from experience) are between 100-200% above what you should pay. Most letting agents work with suppliers that charge VAT, right off the bat your quote is 20% higher compared to a local handyman. Shown below is a quote from PurpleBricks letting agency for £1,020 for replacing lino in a small bathroom. The quote references removing the basin and toilet, which beggars belief! I had the same work done by Carpetright for £300 which included, materials, removing old floor, screeding and installation.
Letting agents from my experience and from speaking to others landlords are terrible. I’d challenge you to find a landlord that’s happy with the letting agent they use. With that being said, I’m sure there are some companies that do a good job, but it’s unlikely to be any of the big estate/letting agents. I used to think letting agents were a necessary evil but now realise self-management isn’t that tough. My property has never looked so good since taking charge of it myself and tenants couldn’t be happier. In my opinion, being a landlord might not be for you unless you can manage the property yourself.