The Landlord's Guide to Choosing the Right Letting Agent

Lettings Blog

How to choose the perfect Letting Agent. One of the hardest parts of being a landlord can often be choosing the right Letting Agent.

By Jacqui Courtier, Plymouth Homes Lettings Director, Propertymark ARLA Agent

How to choose the perfect Letting Agent. One of the hardest parts of being a landlord can often be choosing the right Letting Agent. The right agent can make being a landlord a pleasure but choose poorly and letting your property can become a constant headache.


It is important that you find the right agent to look after your property. Your search can instantly be narrowed by making sure you use an agent that belongs to a client money Protection Scheme. All agents who are a ARLA Propertymark Agent, belong to such a scheme. Doing this will mean that all industry standards are met and you, your property and tenant are properly protected.

Face to Face Evaluation

Wherever possible try to shop around by going into the letting agents' offices. Can you get a good feel of the atmosphere? Speaking to a couple of team members can reveal much. Do you like them? Do you get the feeling that they are going to look after your best interests? Trusting your own judgement here can be very important.   

You need to feel confident that your agent is approachable, professional, honest, and above all else is fully compliant and has a good knowledge of the complex world of the Private Rented Sector.  Anyone can profess to know what they are doing but probing questions can be very revealing. Ask them about their qualifications. How long have they been trading for? What is their reputation like? You should also do your homework by researching their Google and Facebook reviews.

Some key considerations should include how often the staff change at the agency. Try to discover how long the current staff have been there. If there is a high turnover of staff that should raise a concern. Any good business requires consistency, staff leaving regularly is not a good sign, in my own personal opinion. 

We would recommend choosing 2-3 agents that specialise in lettings only. You know what they say about the “Jack of all trades” being the master of none. This can be particularly true of lettings agents. Many companies have a dedicated lettings and sales department who are more likely to have that in-depth knowledge you need in an agent.

The Rental Valuation

The rental valuation is a great opportunity for you to evaluate the 2-3 agents you have shortlisted. When the agents turn up, they should be able to demonstrate their knowledge of the Private Rented Sector and the Housing Health and Safety Rating System. Look for this in their advice on any potential hazards in the property you are letting, as well as their ability to provide an accurate rental valuation.  Most will be able to confidently give you pointers on what you need to do to the property to affect the possible rental price.

Use this opportunity to ask as many questions that you may have regarding the letting of your property and which service level suits you best. Remember you are the client, so you are choosing the best company to make sure you and your tenant are looked after.

Most agents will provide you with on the spot details of the costs involved whilst at the property. All costs should include VAT and there should be no hidden costs. Make sure you are clear on ALL the fees that the agent will charge. 

Once you have chosen an agent and the type of service level you require, you will need to complete their terms of business and instruct them to market your property. You can expect to be asked for proof of ownership and will have to meet the Money Laundering Checks. If you are in the Armed Services or live abroad, you will need to complete a Non-Resident Landlord form, which is a HMRC legal requirement.

Marketing Your Property

The agent you choose will want to take photos externally and internally. At this point, it is a good idea that the property is presented in a condition that is good, clean and fit for purpose. You should expect the agent to give you advice on how best to do this. The right lettings agent will give you good, clear advice on this. I recommend you follow it as it can make a big difference. Trust their experience and expertise.  

Choosing the Right Tenant

Now this is the trick. How do you know if your agent is making the right decision for you and your property? You might want to ask them this question and base your decision on how well the agent answers. If during the course of your conversation you find out that the lettings department operates on the basis of a numerical target/quota (i.e. so many properties being let per week or month) beware! A target-driven office suggests that they are driven by numbers rather than quality. If their focus is on targets rather than ensuring your property is let to the right type of tenant, you and your property could suffer in the long term.

Once the agent has found a suitable tenant that you have agreed to, you can go to the next stage. You can expect your agent to provide you with hard copy evidence of the referencing and credit checks and successful completion of the right to rent checks. You should be furnished with all the relevant information for the applicant to be able to become your tenant (by signing the tenancy agreement) only once you are satisfied that the prospective applicant is of minimal risk.

Start of the Tenancy

After the tenancy agreement has been signed, and the deposit and rent in advance collected (deposit is taken care following the deposit law) a moving-in date should be arranged. In addition, there should be a schedule of condition or inventory provided to the tenant. Even if the property is unfurnished.

Without an inventory or schedule of condition, it will be very difficult for the agent or you to deduct any funds from the deposit at the end of the tenancy.  A Gas Safe check should be in place, as well as a legionella report and, in some instances, an electrical installation certificate. An electrical installation certificate is not yet a legal requirement, but if someone electrocutes themselves due to poor electrics, this then becomes a criminal offence, so we recommend that an electrical installation certificate is obtained. 

Where to Now?

Choosing the right Letting Agent is one of the most important decisions to make for both new and experienced landlords. Inexperienced or unprofessional agents can cost you both time and money. The best agent will take care of your interests and also those of the tenant. In our experience the most productive results come from protecting your income, your property and your tenants.  

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This information is provided by Plymouth Homes Lettings to give you useful information and guidance on how to choose a lettings agent that will look after your best interests.

Plymouth Homes Lettings provide various levels of service that are aimed at the experienced/professional landlord as well as specialised services for the accidental or nervous landlord. Our most popular service is our Rent Paid…Guaranteed service. We also offer Fully Managed or Tenant Find Only services.
Jacqui Courtier

Plymouth Homes Lettings

Plymouth Homes Lettings is the city's top lettings agency. We provide services for both landlords and tenants.

For landlords we provide A Rent Paid...Guaranteed Service.

This is our most popular service with landlords who choose Plymouth Homes. They know that during the term of the tenancy the rent will be paid on a set date every month.

We also provide a Tenant Find service.

Customer Tenants if you are looking for a home to rent in Plymouth and surrounding areas, then you can be rest assured that you and your requirements will be met to the very best of our ability. We do not charge unnecessary fees for signing a new tenancy agreement, neither do we charge you check in fees or check out fees, we want you to enjoy your home and the fact that we look after you and your maintenance needs.

We are experienced landlords and a fully licensed company, we know and understand that your custom is our livelihood, so we take care to make sure you are happy.

As customer tenants there is only one referencing fee when applying for a tenancy.

We check you in and you have a professional inventory and access to our bespoke on line communication system Posidacious, that has a real time speed up effect on maintenance issues. We also carry out maintenance inspections to ensure your home is well maintained.

Our business is based on transparency, honesty and friendly reputation. For more information, call 01752 772846 option 2.