Moving to a new agent is a pretty straightforward process, but you need to follow a few simple guidelines to make sure you don’t fall foul of the rules and end up with a big bill on your hands.
Step One – Check your contract
Before making the switch, you need to check your current contract to see whether you’re still tied into the initial fixed-term period. Letting agents usually set a six or 12-month term at the start of a contract to prevent the landlord from leaving straight after they have invested in advertising and marketing the property, drawing up inventories, vetting tenants and carrying out safety checks.
If a landlord leaves during this period, they’ll likely be liable for the cost of the whole term – and there might even be a penalty written into the contract. Once the initial term is over, the landlord will need to give notice to leave. The length of time varies from contract to contract, so it’s important to check. Written notice is usually required.
Step two – Choose a new letting agent
We’ve all heard the saying ‘out of the frying pan, into the fire’. If you’re switching letting agent because you’re unhappy with the current service, make sure you do your homework and carefully choose their replacement.
Word of mouth is always a good indication, but it’s also worth spending a bit of time online checking reviews and seeing what properties the agent has on offer in its portfolio. If the selection is limited, or properties seem to have been on the website for a few weeks, it should be a red flag.
Nothing beats a face-to-face chat to help you decide, so make appointments with a few letting agents and find out what they have to offer. Take along a list of all the things that are important to you and check their price structure because all letting agents cost their services differently. Carefully check for any ‘hidden’ fees, agents have a legal duty to provide a schedule of every fee they will or even might charge.
First impressions count, so trust your instincts and opt for an agent who puts you at ease and gives you confidence that your property will be well looked after.
Check how often inspections are carried out, what the usual response time is for repairs, and find out who they use for maintenance work. At Clan Gordon, we have a bank of reputable and reliable local tradespeople who consistently provide exceptional service, saving our landlords money and ensuring work is of the highest standard.
Step Three – Give the required notice
Once you’ve chosen a new agent, give written notice to your existing agent within the required timeframe and make sure you receive an acknowledgement confirming the date your contract ends.
It’s important to have written confirmation back from the agent so there can’t be a dispute. You should also check if any additional charges are due, for example, for any repairs that have been carried out to the property. Make sure you receive a final bill and get a receipt to confirm it’s been paid.
When your contract with your current agent ends, cancel any direct debit to ensure you don’t make additional payments.
Step Four – Update your tenants
Before you move to a new letting agent, it’s worth letting your tenants know what’s happening and putting their minds at rest. You might even want to reassure them that they’ll receive a better service from the new letting agent. It’s important to keep tenants well informed as they’re more likely to stay if communication has been good and they feel valued.
Step Five – Moving To Your New Agent
Your new agent should make the transition as easy as possible by liaising with your existing agent to collect all the documentation and the keys to your property. At Clan Gordon, we take care of everything for you when you switch to us. Your tenancy agreement and safety certificates are between you and your tenants so these can all be moved across to the new agent with ease.
You don’t need new ones when you change letting agent, and you can easily move with tenants in situ. These are two of the biggest myths about switching letting agent.
Your new agent should get full details of any outstanding maintenance issues and rent arrears and should also receive the inventory that was drawn up when your tenants moved in.
They should pass on their details to your tenants, including emergency contact numbers, and should advise them of the new bank details for their rent payments. They should also speak to the scheme where the tenants’ deposit is held to make sure the details are transferred.
If a payment is accidentally made to your previous agent, they are obligated to return the money to you, so there’s no risk of losing money.
Step Six – Sit Back And Relax
Once you’ve made the move to a new agent and everything is in order, it’s time to sit back and relax and let them take the strain.
At Clan Gordon, we carefully manage the switch from other letting agents and even pay the landlord a £250 thank you for moving to our property management service. To find out more, arrange a call with one of our expert property management advisors.