How to choose the right property manager
A daunting task can be faced by new landlords searching for property management companies in Edinburgh. Google searches for “Edinburgh property management companies” return 5,540,000 results. Are the first page letting agents the best? Are they trustworthy enough to handle your investment of hundreds of thousands of pounds worth? Do you have the time and patience to go through the first three pages of Google searches, then follow up with them? Here are some things you should consider when searching for the right people to manage your property.
Are They Registered as Letting Agents
Scottish Letting Agent Register is a governmental database of all registered Scottish letting agents. Unregistered property managers that do not adhere to the Letting agents Edinburgh Code of Practice are guilty of a criminal offense. It would be easy to assume that all agents are registered. However, this is not the case. In March 2019 alone, almost 100 businesses were investigated for failing to join the Scottish Letting Agent Register. The first step to finding a good Edinburgh agent is to verify that your shortlisted property managers are listed in the register.
Qualities for Property
All key letting agents must carry SCQF level 6 qualifications in Residential Lettings and Scottish Property Management. Two such capabilities are available:
NFOPP (National Federation of Property Professionals) Technical Award in Residential Letting and Property Management.
LETWELL Certificate in Letting and Managing Residential Property.
The NFOPP qualification consists of 4 modules. Exams are currently held in Pearson Vue testing centers. The LETWELL qualification includes five training days and a written exam. Check to make sure that the key members of an Edinburgh-based letting agent are qualified. Examinable modules require more study and more profound knowledge than components that need to be written.
Referrals and recommendations
This will allow you to determine which of your shortlisted letting agents is registered and has the proper qualifications. Are there any people you know who have used their services to become landlords? Maybe your relatives were their tenants. Ask friends and colleagues to give their opinions. Do they feel satisfied with the current letting agent? Trust the recommendations of people you know and consider them. Ask for recommendations from owners of similar properties if you can. A landlord of a new flat will most likely tell you that they have not had any problems with high maintenance or repair costs. It will be helpful if your apartment is located in an old Edinburgh tenement with its usual concerns.
You can use online reviews to help you spot mediocre agents. However, you should consider the ratio of good to bad reviews and not just the number of reviews. Local letting agents with high-quality reviews should be taken with a grain of salt. The screenshot below shows the reviews of SME Professional, most likely the best property management software providers in Scotland. They had just 28 reviews as of 13.09.2019 (all five stars, though).
How is it possible for local letting agents to accumulate hundreds of reviews? This is a great question. Some contractors will give you gift vouchers in exchange for reviews. Others actively seek reviews from customers. One thing is sure – hundreds upon hundreds of reviews about local letting agents are a guarantee that they are great at marketing. But how good are they at managing property? Ask someone you know who uses their services.
ARLA Propertymark (NFOPP) is the most recognizable professional and regulatory body for UK letting agents. The 9000 members operate at a much higher standard than the Scottish law. Propertymark Client Money Protection Scheme protects landlords’ funds. We recommend only ARLA Propertymark-associated letting agents due to their high accountability standards and strict codes of conduct. ARLA Propertymark allowing agents usually don’t charge higher commissions, and you can have peace of mind knowing that professionals are managing your property. Don’t risk your investment.
Terms and Conditions
For complete property management, most Edinburgh letting agents charge 10%+VAT. There are some that charge less, but be aware of the hidden fees of supposedly cheaper agents. For example, what is the cost of marketing fees? PS150, PS200, or PS300 Is inventory included in the complete management package? Do you need to pay for tenant reference? How about tenant changes that require a new lease? Are tenancy deposit transfers covered? It is strongly recommended that you read the terms and conditions of any landlord agreement before signing it. Otherwise, you could end up paying property management fees you weren’t aware of. Sometimes, the term “full property management” can be misleading.
Social Profile of Letting Agents
If all else fails, and you are still unable to decide which Edinburgh letting agent you want, take a look at their social profiles! Property management is great, and everyone should love it. But there’s more to life. What are they doing after work? Are there any hobbies you share with potential agents? Are they active supporters of local charities?