At Clan Gordon, we regularly take over the management of properties from other Edinburgh letting agents and are, all too frequently, surprised by the condition of the property and the lack of safety certificates. Jonathan Gordon talks about some recent examples and gives advice on steps that you can take as a landlord to ensure that your property – and your tenants – are protected.
The belief that all letting agents are the same, and provide a similar level of service, is a common misconception in the lettings industry. As a landlord, you may assume that by choosing a well-known letting agent, with a city centre office and membership to a regulatory body, your property is in safe hands. Unfortunately, this is not always the case.
Over the past 10 years, we have taken over the management of over a hundred properties from competitor letting agents; very few of which have been in the condition we would expect from a professionally managed property.
It is important not to assume that your letting agent is working to the high standard that you expect (and pay for). Are all the correct safety certificates in place? Is the property being inspected regularly? Are maintenance issues being resolved quickly and, most importantly, is the work completed to a standard that you would be happy with? As a landlord, you should be confident that the answer to every question is yes.
Check that safety certificates are valid and in date.
As the landlord, it is ultimately your responsibility to ensure that the property is safe for tenants to live in. We are continually surprised by the number of properties – including HMOs – passed to us without the correct certificates or smoke alarms, which is both illegal and unsafe for tenants. It is also common to receive safety certificates from the previous managing agent that has remedial work outstanding, invalidating the certificate. Ask your letting agent for copies of safety certificates so you know they are valid and in date. Find out more about safety requirements here.
Ask for detailed inspection reports with photographs.
Your letting agent should let you know how often your property will be inspected before you sign up with them; at Clan Gordon, we inspect our properties a minimum of once every six months. These checks are vital to ensuring tenants are maintaining the property to a good standard and also to catch any maintenance issues before they cause damage to the property. Unfortunately, some letting agents do not inspect properties as often as they should – if at all – allowing properties to fall into disrepair.
By requesting a detailed, photographic inspection report, you can confirm that your property is being inspected regularly and any maintenance issues are dealt with quickly.
Visit your property in person.
Don’t be afraid to inform your letting agent that you want to take a look at the property yourself; your lettings property is a significant investment and it is understandable you may want to visit from time to time. This would have to be done with the consent of the tenants and following the procedure set out in the tenancy agreement.