Online or Letting Agent?

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    Online or Letting Agent?

    Looking for some opinions on whether I'm better using an online site to let a property or an agent?

    Online site, looking at OpenRent.co.uk at around £50 to let on their site, rightmove and zoopla.

    Always used an agent but their costs are a months rent + Vat (local area standard).

    I manage my own properties, so it's always been a let only agreement.

    Looking peoples thoughts on the pros and cons?

    Thanks

    #2
    I'd always used agents to find tenants (and then self manage). After a bad experience, I used OpenRent. I found it all very easy and it removed the mystery from around what the agents do. Downsides are that enquiries come straight to you (some people probably wouldn't like that), and you have to arrange viewings and accompany the viewers (unless you want to pay more). Inventories come at an extra cost, unless you do your own.

    I could imagine that would put some people off, but I actually enjoyed the viewings. You can also get a better feel for the potential tenants. Use an agent and generally the first time you meet your tenant is once they've already moved in. Tenants seem to prefer dealing direct and being shown around by someone who really knows the property, street and what the neighbours are like.

    I like the control it gives you over the process. If you want to change the order of the photos on Rightmove/Zoopla, log in and do it - you don't have to phone an agent and wait until they can be bothered with your trivial request.

    It costs me £49 (plus £20 per person to check tenants/guarantors) as opposed to £480. They sort the deposit and tenancy agreement (digital) signing, plus they collect the first month's rent. I've used them twice now, I'll never go back.

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      #3
      The agent will generally get you worse tenants than you would get yourself (the bottom of the barrel after they fill the places they own themselves, and those owned by landlords paying them hefty ongoing fees). A fundamental principle of keeping yourself safe as a landlord these days is to hand pick tenants YOURSELF.

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        #4
        Originally posted by AndrewDod View Post
        The agent will generally get you worse tenants than you would get yourself (the bottom of the barrel after they fill the places they own themselves, and those owned by landlords paying them hefty ongoing fees). A fundamental principle of keeping yourself safe as a landlord these days is to hand pick tenants YOURSELF.
        This goes both ways.

        Good tenants (like me) also avoid letting agents with more vigour than I have been avoiding covid-19. Letting agents really don't give a ****. Had one once and never again!

        You can tell when a good property is competitively priced and you are meeting the landlord yourself that they have a bit more about them then your average letting agent. Also they ore often than not have a clutch of tenants to choose from etc.

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          #5
          Most LLs are unlikely to identify more suitable Ts.
          You make your choice and accept the outcome.

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            #6
            It's a no brainer, to meet and vet tenants yourself. I always make it clear in advert that it's a private landlord (and specify 'no extra fees').
            You also find you will get more specific enquiries such as tenants with pets, or on benefits who you might want to consider

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              #7
              Never let others hold or protect the deposit. The Landlord is responsible for it at all times.

              I prefer to use an agent (usually same one) but instruct them on what I want in a tenant. That seems to sort out wheat from chaff.

              I always double up on refs and contact the employer myself and look a T on social media - a mine of information.



              Freedom at the point of zero............

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                #8
                I managed to get the last letting agent I used to transfer the deposit to a custodial scheme registered to me - I feel a lot better about it now, especially considering what the combination of the tenant fees ban and COVID will have done to agents' finances.

                I've used social media too. I had a strange 'gut feeling' about one prospective tenant when I spoke to him on the phone. Found him on FB and there were a couple of "I'm a bit of a c**t, me" type of posts. Put a few viewings in before him and the house was gone before he saw it. I reckon I dodged a bullet there.

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                  #9
                  Ive used Open Rent for 3 years, absolutely brilliant to deal with and I’ve secured great tenants.

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                    #10
                    I'm considering using OR too. With respect to deposit protection, how're they when there's a dispute with inventory check out? Does one get the option of which deposit protection scheme they use? Is TDS is a better one?

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                      #11
                      Just an update that i ended up using Open Rent and the service was great. Found a tenant, one i amd pleased with and cost me 10% of what i normally pay. No going back now!

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                        #12
                        Great news ! Glad it's all worked out for you.

                        I knew you'd probably feel like that (same as me) if you tried it once. Having complete control of the process (everything gets done how/when you want it) feels like total freedom.

                        It also feels better knowing you're not going to get fleeced, or palmed off with any old tenant just to get the finder's fee.

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                          #13
                          Originally posted by Delectable1 View Post
                          I'm considering using OR too. With respect to deposit protection, how're they when there's a dispute with inventory check out? Does one get the option of which deposit protection scheme they use? Is TDS is a better one?
                          No, you don't get an option. They use My Deposits which I found really cumbersome to work with compared to TDS, where all our other deposits are. This is one reason why I don't use OR for anything more than advertising a property. It's really not that hard to get the tenant to pay you the deposit and then to pay TDS (who we prefer) or any scheme you want.

                          You can transfer deposits between schemes but I don't want to risk something going wrong while this happens as I'd be the one taking the risk if the deposit somehow became unprotected.

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                            #14
                            Originally posted by tatemono View Post
                            You can transfer deposits between schemes but I don't want to risk something going wrong while this happens as I'd be the one taking the risk if the deposit somehow became unprotected.
                            I got a letting agent (who was holding a deposit) to transfer. You set up the new deposit protection, then you send the deposit reference and the new scheme's bank details to the other custodian (or scheme).

                            Your new protection is 'pending' until the the transfer happens. There's no 'unprotected' period, as the funds are sent directly from one scheme (or agent, in my case) to the other. As soon as the funds hit the bank account, the new protection is in place.

                            It was a very slick process - even considering that I wanted to get away from the letting agent due to incompetence.

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