Landlords - Hire agents for peace of mind, not higher rentals

New research has highlighted the most important services that landlords should be looking for when they appoint a managing agent, says Greg Harris, CEO of Chas Everitt Property Rentals.
This huge survey, conducted on behalf of the UK listed property group Hunters, revealed that the top priority for 70% of property owners is, surprisingly, not the amount for which their agent can rent the property, but the ability to perform proper credit and reference checks and hopefully screen out potential tenants that are likely to cause problems.
“In fact, the actual rental achieved did not even make the top three on the list of reasons for hiring a managing agent,” says Harris, “and in our experience the situation in SA is very similar.
“The main worry for landlords here now is how difficult, costly and time-consuming it is to evict a tenant that is in default and/ or causing damage to the property, and an ever-increasing number of private owners are opting for our professional rental property management services specifically because we can and do conduct thorough credit, employment and rental history checks to qualify potential tenants upfront.
“These checks are done via independent and unbiased third parties such as ITC and TPN, and enable us to eliminate not only those who actually can’t afford a specific property, but also those with a record of erratic or late payments, or of serious property damage, and it gives our clients much more peace of mind about who is getting the keys to their rental homes.”  
In the UK research, he notes, the second most important issue for landlords (66%) was the speed at which the property is let, reflecting the need to avoid vacancies and the associated loss of income.
“And once again, we hear this all the time from the private landlords who turn to us because we have a national footprint and the marketing platforms in place to ensure that their properties get the best exposure to potential tenants and are let in the shortest possible time to the best possible tenants.
“This is very difficult for landlords to achieve on their own, without spending major resources on advertising – and then managing the responses to that advertising, tenant viewings and so on, not to mention the need to screen those respondents.”
Third on the list of the most important reasons to appoint a reputable managing agent, Harris says, is access to trained and knowledgeable staff as well as computerised systems to ensure that rentals and utility payments are collected on time, properties are inspected, tenants are managed and possible problems are detected early.
“In SA this is underlined by the fact that the Consumer Protection Act, the Rental Housing Act and various other laws introduced over the past few years have made it increasingly difficult for private landlords to keep up, and our clients often tell us what a relief it is for them to know that, while they remain legally responsible as the owners of the properties, all the lease documents and procedures that we use are fully legally compliant.”
Meanwhile, he says, the fourth priority for the UK landlords surveyed (41%) was finding and keeping a long-term, reliable tenant – even if they had to accept a lower rental to do so.
“This is also something that we have asked many clients to consider over the past few years, because while it is important for landlords to make good returns, it is also important for them to limit risk, especially when most households are struggling to make ends meet. By keeping their rental increases to a minimum, they are much more likely to hang on to quality tenants who pay regularly and maintain their properties well, and not have to risk their properties standing empty or being occupied by new tenants who are an unknown quantity.”

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