Changing agent?

Just wondering if anyone else out there has the same issue as myself with a ‘managing’ agent falling short on managing a uk rental property.

I’m now a French resident, but decided to keep my UK property and continue to rent it out. Being some distance away, the safest/lowest risk option for me was to use a local managing agent. Although it hasn’t been a disaster, I seem to be paying quite a reasonable sum of money to an agent that seems to continually fall short in delivering what has been agreed e.g periodic visits, competitive quotes for anything that needs to be done……… A little frustrating, so seriously considering changing agent.

Before setting anything rolling, I wanted to check if anyone else had any experience of changing a managing agent, meanwhile keeping the same tenant. Don’t want to jump out of the frying into an inferno, but need to decide what I’ll do. Any advice very very welcome :grin:

We’re on our third rental management company and the current one is c**p so I think you have to assume they’re all pretty much the same. If you want to change just make sure you check the contract terms and conditions in case there’s a ‘get out’ fee or notice period and do make sure you have the tenancy deposit details. All our tenancy agreements are in our names and not the managing agent so that’s something else to check.

1 Like

Thanks Tim - very helpful - money for old rope springs to mind, but that might be doing old rope an injustice :joy: as a matter of interest, when you changed agent did the new agent handle all the liaison with your tenant, assuming the same tenant remained between changes? I do know someone who manages their rental from a distance, but thought that a little risky, but after discovering my agent only visited the property once in the year, starting to wonder if that’s an option :thinking::thinking:

When we ditched the first agent their replacement dealt with everything as regards a handover so it was seamless, similarly when the second agent sold her business to another agency everything stayed the same so that was also easy. The concerns we have with the current company are - not getting more than one quote for repairs, not increasing the rents when asked and general poor communication. They inspect the properties regularly and the rent is usually paid on time but after a showdown with the manager last year we expected better given how much we pay them every month.

If you’re not happy then I would certainly kick up a fuss to start with and see if that has any effect, if it doesn’t then find someone else.

As an aside will the new EPC rating rules affect you when they come in?

Thanks again Tim :+1: very helpful :+1: good food for thought, and gives me another good opinion/reference point.

Re the EPC, I had one done last year and my place complies with the new min threshold, so that was pleasing. In fact the agent offered me the service which was 3x what I found it for on the net. Told them to use my guy and not to come to me again with inflated offers - I guess I was as blunt and direct as I could be, meanwhile remaining ‘professional’! I think they understood as I told them that I expected them to bring me value and not the other way around. In fact I got them to reimburse me for my time, but the point was more that I pay them to give me a ‘good value peaceful life’:grin:

Unless you know of a Letting Agency in your UK region that has a good reputation (and there are some, including one that I used to own in Hampshire), I suggest that you should put your energies into fixing things with your existing Agency, rather than going through a probabaly fruitless change of Agents.
My first question would be ‘Is your Agent a member of ARLA - or another regulatory body?’ If so, have you contacted them with your complaints?
Secondly - it sounds as though you have specific and identifiable complaints with the service you are receiving: have you raised these (in writing) with the Agent? If so - what happened, if anything?
Thirdly - have you advised them that they will not be getting paid by you in full until they fulfil their contractual obligations to you as a Landlord?
And finally - have you posted something appropriate on their FaceBook page, to invite other clients to share their experiences online? That’ll make them jump!
In other words, start making life unpleasant for them, so that they deliver what you are paying for, in order to shut you up.

1 Like

Some interesting points Michael, thanks and nice to receive input from a former agent.

They are members of ARLA, but I haven’t contacted them, but good suggestion so think I will do that.

And yes I do have specific points that I have actually raised with the agent, to which they provided a very very waffly long winded response. To which I responded with quite a direct message. This was after trying to deal with the points over the phone and then getting a lengthy mail response after the phone call. In brief, there were a number of relatively smaller points they didn’t fulfill in their contract, but the main two points were a)not getting competitive quotes for services and me getting quotes that were consistently about 30% of the agents cost and b)no regular visits - in the contract it says 3 per year, but they visited once (Dec 2020 to Dec 2021 - their reason was Government rules prevented them from visiting, then they were short staffed in catching up - my response was that the staffing issue was not my problem and when I asked them what the period was when the Government was restricting visits, they could not say - very very frustrating, so would love to actually get the rules that were in place at the time i.e. the ‘blackout period’ for visits.

Re getting paid, in actual fact, my tenant pays the agent and then they pay me, after deduction of their fees, so not in a position to withold any monies unfortunately.

And re facebook, I don’t actually use facebook and don’t really want to set one up just for this, but I was seriousy considering setting up a twitter account, primarily for this, as it’s plainly wrong that they aren’t accountable and think they can do what they want when their client is remote. Maybe they feel there is no option for me, without returning to the UK to sort out a new agent, so feel quite safe???

Really welcome your feedback, given your experience. Ultimately, I just want to pay someone to do the job and for them to do it. It’s no wonder so many agents have a dismal reputation!

Thanks - a few further observations: is it fair to say that, although they have not carried out the contracted 3 annual visits [see below], you haven’t actually experienced any problems that they have failed to fix? - such as receipt of regular monthly rent payments; tenants problems fixed; maintenance/repairs carried out as necessary. In other words, if this is so, you don’t really have anything to seek ARLA’s help on.
Visits are customarily ‘mid-term’ - so it depends whether your tenant has a 6 or 12 month Tenancy as to what number of visits per year might be expected. Plus, of course, visits at the beginning and end of the Tenancy.
All letting Agents have their ‘approved’ tradespeople to carry out works. Unfortunately you have no control over the prices charged (the Agent adds a %), it’s a take-it-or-leave it situation. The benefit to you is a) prompt attention when the Agent wants them; and b) nothing for you to do or worry about - should be hassle-free.

In fact, the property is in very good condition, so fortunately there haven’t been any repairs necessary, so far, in the one year that I have been renting my property out!

And re the visits, the contract I have between the agent and myself actually clearly states 3 per year, they did 1. But if I asked for more visits, I bet they’d want to charge me additional cost. :roll_eyes:

As far as Agent’s tradespeople are concerned, if I can very easily find people to execute at 30% of their cost, and act promptly, whilst I’m here in France, in my eyes that tells me they are not adding value at all. In fact on the contrary, they are fleecing me. Anyone can go out there and throw money at something to either purchase a service or object. Going to a ‘professional expert’ should give you an advantage surely. For me, I wasn’t going to take it or leave it and told them to use the people I sourced, which they did. The relevant services were EPC, gas certificate, legionella risk assessment and electrical check. So essentially, all certification services.

It irks me that I need to do their job, and in respect of the inspections, well, that’s simply not delivering.

And agents wonder why they have such a bad reputation. The amount of bullshit and waffling vagueness I’ve heard is incredible. If the Director I’ve dealt with had been working for me when I was working, I would have probably moved him on. Correction: most definitely moved him on!

I’d say that your Agent has been very accommodating then, if they agreed to use your preferred tradespeople.
From the info it would appear that you have a ‘Full Management’ arrangement with them, probably costing you around 13% of the rental plus VAT (15% altogether). You could reduce this cost if you were able to have (say) a family member, or friend, carry out checks etc for you - but this is not ideal as you now live in France.
As I understand the UK covid Regulations, estate agency (inc. Lettings) came under ‘advisory guidance’, not actual Regulation, during lockdowns. There is therefore no apparent reason why your Agent should not carry out all of their routine checking commitments. On this one count, therefore, they are not supplying the service that you are paying for; and you should formally request a suitable rebate. As you say, if they have staff shortages as a result of covid, that is their problem, not yours.
Sorry you have such an all-embracing disparaging view of Agents. You chose ‘to do their job’; and you knew what the costs were, so they hardly ‘fleeced’ you. Certification is one thing; repairs & maintenance services quite another. Good Luck.

Thanks for taking the time to reply Michael - appreciated the responses. And yes it is a full management service, but instead of being 15%, I managed to negotiate an agreement for 9%, however, the sum involved is rather large, which I guess also has a bearing on the %.

Very very interested to hear about the ‘advisory guidance’ as opposed to actual regulation, as my agent told there was a ‘blackout’ period when the Government guidelines would not allow them to make inspections - would much appreciate it if you could reconfirm that for me, just to make I’m not misinterpreting in any way.

And lastly re me choosing to do their job, if I had let them do their job and use their appointed service providers, I would have been out of pocket, so quite pleased I stepped in.

Ah, OK - so you’ve agreed to a 40% discounted service deal . . . 7½% net of VAT for the Agent.
Everything has a price.
The covid Regs & Rules are on the UK Gov website - Guidance for landlords and tenants - GOV.UK

Well, not really discounted - the going rate locally where the property is let is 10% (incs VAT) and I have 9%, based on my property commanding quite a sizeable rental value - not peanuts. So the agent takes a pretty sizeable chunk for their fee, for really what amounts to some admin and collecting my tenant’s rental payments. Really is money for old rope, if I look at what I pay and what I actually receive. I think the % chanrges you’re quoting are probably for flats in a lower cost part of the country i.e. far lower rental values???

Thanks for the website - I did actually look at that when the agent tried to waffle through his explanation, but the guidance unfortunatey doesn’t tell me what the ‘rules’ were during the period when they weren’t inspecting, as they are updated…sadly.

Anyway, thanks for the input, appreciated, and hope to god you were a more professional agent than the outfit I have.