Published: 25/10/2017“Online” or “Call Centre” Letting Agents have arrived, and although they have had nowhere near the impact the Online Estate Agents have had in recent years, they are almost certainly here to stay.
Having researched a number of Online Letting Agents, we thought we’d summarise the pros and cons of these types of agents to save you hours of research, and so you can make an informed decision on which type of Letting Agency suits your circumstances best.
- Modern and easy to use website
- Online chat
- Viewings can be booked online 24/7
- Cheaper entry price (usually 10-20% lower than local agents)
- Fixed fees
- Minimum service options
- Clear definitions
- Clear service options
- Sign terms online
- Local agent often available in your area
- The landlord is required to upload their own photos
- The landlord is required to write and upload their own detailed property description
- Viewings carried out by the agent are often not included but available as an additional add on (Landlords can expect to pay anywhere up to £300 extra!)
- Inspections are often not included in standard package
- Inventories are often not included in standard package
- No follow up on maintenance works
- Incomplete arrears service. An example being 2 phone calls and 2 letters only – if the arrears remain out standing after that no further action is taken
- Gas certificate is not carried out – just an email reminder is sent to the landlord! This is a legal requirement under Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998
- Agents do not test smoke alarms. This is a legal requirement under the Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Regulations 2015
- No involvement in complex management issues
- Tenancy renewals often not included
- No rent reviews or rent increases at renewal
- Untrained call centre staff reading from scripts
- Impersonal centralised Property Management and Accounts centres
- No local offices to visit if there is a problem
- Customers unaware they are being provided a vastly reducing service compared with a full management service offered by local agents
Online Agents have a place in the market and offer a good solution for many landlords. However care needs to be taken when choosing as it’s not immediately obvious that the services by provided by each type of Letting Agency are simply not the same.
Online agents are good at illustrating what is included in their service, but often aren’t forth coming about what is not included. Landlords may be able to reduce cost by 20%, but may not also realise they may well be reducing service by 80% at the same time.
We believe online agents are a good option for landlords who understand all of the legal framework, compliance and the complexities of management and are fully up to speed with all the regulations. The landlord also needs to be hands-on and heavily involved in the letting and management of their property.
For those who want a hassle-free service that offers total peace of mind, we believe that a local agent offering a comprehensive management service would always be more appropriate, offering peace of mind along with a personal service.
If you have any queries about our management services, don't hesitate to get in touch.