“Is it time to change my managing agent?” It is a question that many landlords ask themselves, particularly if they feel they have been let down for some reason by their current agent. And it is a question they should be asking themselves, because in a competitive marketplace, there is no excuse for a professional to offer a less than professional service.
There are plenty of reliable agents, with the right skill-set and, just as importantly, the right mind-set. They will always go the extra mile when needed, and they will do it uncomplainingly.
So how do you spot when it is time to change your managing agent – or, at the very least, issue them with a warning that you expect a better level of service? Here are our eight tips:
1. Insist on promptness in replying to all communications, whether emails or phone messages. There is no excuse for anything less in 2018. Agents who respond sluggishly or not all, will only add stress to a sometimes simple situation that can be easily overcome.
2. Try to find an agent who is proactive, not reactive. The best agents do not simply respond to events, but look ahead. They keep an eye out for tenants, who may not want to renew their tenancy, for some reason, or for upcoming maintenance issues with the common parts of a building.
3. Remember that a good agent is the head of a tight-knit team. Does your agent have dependable plumbers and electricians and other contractors, who can be pressed into service at short notice? If not, it may be time to change your managing agent.
4. Put a premium on local knowledge. One of the reasons landlords get dissatisfied with their agents is that the agents are not physically close enough to the property being managed – and visit it less frequently in consequence. Employ a local agent, particularly if you are not living locally yourself. Kay & Co often manage properties that we are not local, too.
5. A ‘people person’ is always preferable to one with limited social skills. So many issues that crop up with managed properties need a light human touch, not heavy-handed interventions that make the issue worse. So try to find an agent with a ready smile and the necessary diplomatic skills.
6. Only employ agents who have landlord-and-tenant law at their fingertips. The laws governing landlords and tenants are tweaked so often that an agent who is not abreast of the relevant legislation may be a hinderance rather than a help in the long-term.
7. Watch out for the tell-tale signs of complacency. Like marriages that go stale, the relationship between a landlord and a managing agent can gradually cool, with minimal communication between the two parties. Make sure your relationship with your agent does not succumb to the seven-year itch!
8. Does your agent have a sixth sense for trouble? Not all the problems an agent has to deal with are as obvious as a burst pipe. The best agents have an uncanny knack for smelling out problems with tenants – such as unauthorised sub-lettings – that are not always apparent on the surface.
Some landlords we know enjoy such a rock-solid relationship with their managing agents that it is like a friendship stretching for years. If you want a similar relationship with your own agent, you need to insist on high standards, or it might be time to find a new managing agent.
• Contact Kay & Co estate agents for details of properties for sale, to rent or block management in Marylebone, Bayswater, King’s Cross, Paddington, Notting Hill, Mayfair, Hyde Park, Fitzrovia, Regents Park, Paddington and The West End (020 7262 2030; Kay & Co).