I’ve had a rental property for 10+ years and over that period I’ve used letting agents for property management. However, I’ve finally lost patience. Having used Winkworth for years, I moved to PurpleBricks thinking it’s not possible to find a worse property management company. I was wrong! I’ve now been using PurpleBricks for 18 months and cannot continue with them anymore. This post documents my experience of changing from a paid property management service to self-management.
Too many years of poor service
Here are some examples of shocking service provided over the years from both PurpleBricks and Winkworth:
- Not realising when tenants stop paying rent or when there’s a shortfall
- Losing all the spare keys for my apartment
- Not doing property inspections (ever!)
- Anything other than a simple repair becomes a disaster
- Being ripped off with outrageous quotes
- Not being available to grant access to my apartment, meaning I need to take time off work
- Knowing nothing about my property (bin shed location, pin codes etc) even after 8 years of managing my property
Having spoken to other landlords, this isn’t just my anecdotal experience. The property management business model is flawed and letting agents get away with charging for terrible service.
I will save over £2,000 per year on fees by self-managing and there are in-direct savings with on-going maintenance (by getting sensible quotes). I recently received a quote from PurpleBricks for various odd jobs that totalled £4,000! I’ll save 20% on VAT by sourcing local tradespeople (at least), but expect to save more.
Better relationship with tenants
Letting agents create friction between landlords and tenants by portraying the landlord as the “bad guy” to tenants and vice versa. Happy tenants will want to stay longer and should take better care of my property. PurpleBricks and Winkworth had no relationship with who was living at my flat as they never visited!
It was my plan to self-manage when I quit my job and had more free time, but I’ve concluded (slowly) that it’s less stress to self-manage. Letting agents just create problems for both landlord and tenant. They’re a redundant middle-layer and charge you for it!
My step by step progress into self-management
- [20th July 2019] I’ve completed some preliminary research into companies that can help with on-going property maintenance. Several companies I’ve found work directly with tenants opposed to me having to arrange property appointment dates. I’ve also used MyBuilder.com on occasions which is great for finding local tradespeople with reviews.
- [25th July 2019] I like what I’ve read about OpenRent when it comes to producing tenancy agreements and getting my property let. They operate on small margins which translates into good cost savings for landlords. You get access to the main property portals in the UK (Rightmove, Zoopla etc) which is how letting agents find tenants. This means there’s no disadvantage for getting viewings, moreover, I’m confident I’d do a better job selling and explaining my own property than a property agent that knows nothing about my flat.
- [1st August 2019] I’ve notified PurpleBricks that I’m taking my property back. My current tenants will have to leave. Moving current tenants to a different contract will be challenging (I’ve had bad experiences of this in the past). They are out of contract so within 1-2 months (or sooner) I’ll have my property back to undertake minor repairs and let myself using OpenRent.
- [8th August 2019] I’ve been contacted through good fortune by one of my tenants and explained the situation with PurpleBricks. Their experiences of working with PurpleBricks property management team has been equally woeful and would rather work directly with me. I have advised them to give notice to PurpleBricks and I have drawn up a new contract through OpenRent (which took 1 minute!).
- [13th August 2019] The Deposit Protection Service (DPS) has refunded the tenant’s deposit under the current contract and has been submitted to OpenRent and held with the DPS.
- [13th August 2019] The changeover has been seamless and I’m now self-managing. I’ve met with the tenants and they all seem lovely; totally different to how PurpleBricks portrayed them. I’ve been working through a list of repair issues and it’s been quite enjoyable; I’m receiving reasonable quotes and making sure things get done properly.
I was initially apprehensive about the unknown of self-management, but I now wish I’d made the change years ago. I’d encourage any landlord that’s thinking about making the switch from paid property management to self-management to do it. I promise it’s not as difficult as you think and you won’t look back.