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Private Landlord Or Letting Agent – Which Is Right For You?

By Darragh Timlin on October 26th, 2022

When you start to think about letting out your first buy-to-let property, the one question that crosses your mind is, should I use a letting agency or rent out the property myself? Many first-time landlords start out with just one property and can often find they can manage it by themselves.

However, if you lead a busy and full life, are not in the best of health, or have more than one property to look after, it can be easier to use the services of a letting agent to take care of everything for you.

Landlords have much to consider before deciding how to manage their rental property. Not forgetting that no matter which option they choose to go with, they need to protect their investment with the right insurance to meet their needs, such as with Brisco landlord insurance.

Here we look at letting agent vs private landlord options and the pros and cons of both.

Should I be a private landlord? (pros and cons)

There isn’t a one-size-fits-all manual on how to be a private landlord in the UK. Learning how to be a private landlord involves reading up on government legislation to understand your rights and responsibilities and those of your tenants.

Sometimes it can feel overwhelming to take on all the duties of a private landlord and make sure you remain in compliance with UK property letting laws. However, if you are only managing one property, it may not impact your home life or profit margin too much, so it can be better financially to manage the property by yourself.

The main advantage of being a private landlord is that you will have complete control over your rental property and make all the decisions over its maintenance and upkeep. However, it will also mean you being on call 24/7 to solve any tenants’ problems.

Using a letting agent comes at a price, so if you want to maximise your rental income profits, managing your rental property alone can save you a lot of money. But this means you will be sacrificing your own time to deal with all the tasks of managing your rental property.

You have to determine which is more important to you – your time or your rental income.

Types of private landlord

Private landlords decide to manage the letting of their property by themselves and will handle all the duties associated with taking care of it. However, there are two types of landlords, and you will fall into one category or the other:

  • Professional landlords: These are property owners that choose to invest their money into rental properties, such as buy-to-let investments and treat them as a profit-generating business. Professional landlords tend to build up a portfolio of properties over time and usually place their management into the hands of a letting agent or property management company.
  • Accidental landlords: Accidental landlords tend to become landlords through circumstance. This may involve a relative passing away and leaving their property as part of their inheritance. In these cases, the landlord may not have set out to create a property rental business purposefully but instead will keep the property on as an investment for their retirement or to provide some extra household income.

Private landlord responsibilities

As a private landlord, you will need to set a rental price for your property, the frequency of rent payments, and decide whether or not to include any service charges in the rent to cover things like garden maintenance, if applicable.

You must draw up a tenancy agreement that is fair to both parties and legally compliant with current property letting laws. You should also give your tenant a copy of this agreement before they move in.

If you are issuing an assured shorthold tenancy, you must put your tenant’s deposit into a government-approved deposit protection scheme within a month. Failing to do this can result in hefty financial penalties.

You will also need to supply your tenant with the following:

  • A copy of the property’s Energy Performance Certificate
  • A copy of the property’s Gas Safety Certificate
  • A copy of the government’s How to Rent guide
  • A privacy notice detailing how you will use their personal information (GDPR)

Should I let through a lettings agent?

Using the services of a letting agent can be a great way to relieve yourself of the responsibilities of managing your rental property or properties full-time. Letting agents manage properties on behalf of private landlords, offer a range of management options and will charge fees for their services.

Letting agents can be beneficial for helping landlords ensure their rental property is up to code and meet their legal responsibilities towards their tenants. Letting agents can also be invaluable if you think you will struggle to find suitable tenants for your property on your own.

The referencing process can be a real headache for a landlord. This involves conducting background checks, checking references, checking the right to rent and the immigration status of prospective tenants and anyone over the age of 18 that lives with them. This means getting copies of official documents and passports to prove their residential status.

Your letting agent can market your property, arrange viewings and vet prospective tenants to ensure they are suitable and will be reliable and responsible tenants. Another way letting agents help landlords is by holding regular property inspections where they can spot and report maintenance issues as well as organise local tradespeople to fix them.

Health and safety compliance

It is written into law that rental tenants have the right to live peacefully in safe properties that are in good order and free from health and safety hazards. Landlords are legally required to ensure their rental properties are fit to live in by ensuring the following:

  • Carbon monoxide alarms are installed in rooms with wood-burning stoves
  • Electrical items supplied are in good working order, safe to use, and have been checked every five years
  • Gas equipment is installed by Gas Safe-registered engineers and is inspected each year
  • If furnished, furnishings adhere to Fire and Furnishing regulations
  • Kitchens, bathrooms and toilets are functional and sanitary
  • Working smoke alarms are installed on each floor of the property

If you feel overwhelmed at the prospect of ensuring your rental property complies with these health and safety and property letting rules, then your letting agent can handle these things on your behalf.

Your letting agent will also arrange any repairs and maintenance jobs your property needs that you feel you cannot take on by yourself. As a landlord, you will be responsible for the general upkeep of your rental property. Still, while you may be happy to redecorate the place, you will need professionals to help with gas, heating, hot water and electrical issues. Your agent can manage these professional tasks for you.

Conclusion

The decision to use a letting agent to manage your rental property doesn’t mean you have to put the management of your property entirely into their hands. You may decide to split your landlord responsibilities by dividing them between yourself and your letting agency.

This can be helpful as it will prevent you from becoming overwhelmed by your responsibilities as a landlord. You can get great peace of mind knowing you have a professional team of agents supporting you and ensuring your property and tenancy agreement comply with all current property letting regulations. Are you starting a new venture? Let us assist you in understanding the essential business insurance requirements for your industry.

Darragh Timlin

With over 25 years’ experience, Darragh is an expert in all things insurance. Starting his career in commercial property underwriting, Darragh has worked for a number of global insurers and is now Managing Director of Brisco Business, part of the wider Henry Seymour Group.

All articles by Darragh Timlin

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