Whether you’re new to the world of property lettings or an experienced landlord, the question has probably crossed your mind as to how you can reduce the demands that come with managing properties.
The answer is using a property management service to look after your property for you but, like any industry, there are services you do and don’t need and good and bad agents.
So, when it comes to property management in Manchester, what should you be looking for? In this article, we’re going to help you identify what services you need, along with sharing hints and tips on how to choose the right agent to look after your property.
Identify Your Landlord Goals
It goes without saying that you became a landlord for a reason, but when was the last time you thought about why you do what you do?
Before you start thinking about what property management services you need it’s important to consider what type of landlord you want to be. If you’re considering property management it’s likely that you’ve already decided you need a little help. The question is: how much?
A good place to start is by looking at your lifestyle and asking if you really want it to change. Being a landlord brings great flexibility, but the downside is that it isn’t always a nine to five job.
The more responsibility you take on, the more time you’re going to spend managing tenants and viewings during unsociable hours. If that sounds okay, then great! If it doesn’t you need a property management agent.
Likewise, if you already have a career and want to be a landlord alongside it, you need to give some thought to how much extra work you can take on. Of course, you may also need to think about how your extra workload will impact your family and social life.
If you are happy to take on some of the practical management of properties, what does this look like? Property management means being a landlord doesn’t have to be an all or nothing decision. You can pick and choose what support you need.
If you can identify all of this early, it will go a long way to helping you decide what services you need and ensure you don’t take on more work than you can realistically manage.
Choose Your Services
Once you have an idea of whether you want to be a hands-on or hands-off landlord, it’s time to look at the services on offer and how they suit your needs.
The role of a landlord begins long before a tenant signs their lease. In fact, one of the most challenging parts of being a landlord is finding a tenant in the first place.
For that reason, one of the most effective property services on offer is marketing management and it’s a topic we get pretty excited about. You may think marketing is just a fancy word for photos that showcase your property and listings on property portals, but it’s so much more than that.
With so much technology available, a good property agent can provide you with a marketing service that’s bespoke to your needs. Depending on your property, that could mean anything from virtual tours to aerial photography.
It makes sense that keeping your property tenanted is crucial, so when it comes to avoiding void periods, exceptional marketing should be top of your list.
Even if marketing is something you think you can do yourself, the real value of a property management agents is the fact you can tap into their database of prospective tenants.
The result is that the marketing from a property management agent gives you far more exposure than you could reasonably expect to generate yourself. Before any marketing takes place, though, management agents should offer you a valuation to ensure you’re charging the right amount of rent and not missing out on extra income.
Tenant Screening and Check-In
Successful marketing is one thing, but you still need someone to deal with all the enquiries. If you have a full-time job alongside your career as a landlord this poses a real problem as you’ll have little time to conduct the necessary viewings.
Property management agents offer a screening service to take care of these viewings so you don’t have to. If a potential tenant is interested, your agent will also qualify them with reference and credit checks. Then, the agent will prepare the tenancy agreement and any other prescribed information for you.
That means you get to avoid conducting dozens of viewings and dealing with all the boring paperwork that comes with being a landlord.
Plus, while some of these tasks may seem straightforward, they can be deceptively complex and often come with a fair few legal strings attached. For example, you could conduct a thorough inventory and schedule the condition at the start of a tenancy.
If details of your property’s condition don’t get picked up from day one, this can come back to haunt you down the line. In some cases, not completing all the necessary paperwork correctly can actually affect your ability to evict a bad tenant quickly.
Using the expertise of a property management agent can ensure you avoid these pitfalls and don’t have to constantly keep up with changing landlord laws.
As a landlord, you’ll need to collect a deposit in case your tenant causes damage in your property that goes beyond wear and tear or fails to pay their rent and bills.
Unfortunately, though, this money can’t just sit in your account looking pretty. It needs to be held in a government-backed tenancy deposit scheme, such as the Deposit Protection Service (DPS).
A let-only management service will coordinate the collection, and lodging of this deposit, along with the first month’s rent on your behalf.
If you’d rather an expert took care of all the rent collection for, more comprehensive property management packages can offer this. This can be particularly useful if a tenant struggles to pay their rent on time, and has to be chased as it saves you the hassle.
Some property management agents can even go one step forward and provide insurance to guarantee your rent. While you never plan to have a tenant that won’t pay there rent, it’s always good to expect the unexpected, so this type of rent guarantee can go a long way to help you sleep at night.
Plus, property management services can include legal cover if an eviction is needed within the initial fixed term of the tenancy.
With the right care and attention, your buy-to-let property can be an investment that pays for the rest of your life. Regular maintenance is key to this by ensuring small problems don’t turn into big ones further down the road.
For this reason, one of the most important parts of being a landlord is having a network of tradesmen you can turn to when an issue comes up with your property.
If you don’t have this network, dealing with maintenance items can take a long time, cost a hefty amount, and be too lower quality – not ideal!
This ultimately results in the deterioration of your property’s health and the rent you can charge. You might even lose good tenants if constant maintenance issues aren’t dealt with.
Good property management agents have this network and can coordinate maintenance repairs for your property quickly, saving you all the trouble. They’ll also keep an eye on your property via regular inspections and reports, so repairs can be identified quickly and dealt with quickly.
Property agents also typically have an emergency repairs service as a part of their management packages. Do you really want to have to get up to repair that burst pipe in the middle of the night? No thank you!
The final service you should consider from a property management agent is, well… management.
So far, we’ve discussed the major elements of looking after a buy-to-let property, but there are plenty of little tasks that can take up a lot of time, from dealing with tenant questions to rent reviews and renewal.
Luckily, all of these can be dealt with by a property management agent which allows you to be that hands-off landlord. This means you can enjoy all the good bits about being a landlord, with very few burdens.
Find the Right Management Agent
Once you know what services you’re interested in, it’s time to find the right property management package to suit your lifestyle.
While many agents may offer the same package, the quality of service they provide could be very different, think about which agent you’re going to get on with as well.
For us, choosing the right agent comes down to three key points that we like to think we’re pretty good at:
- Communication: Your property is likely one of your most valuable assets so you need to be able to check up on it. Even better, a good management agent should be providing you with regular reports.
- Transparency: While many of the services we’ve explored are common, every agent offers a slightly different service, so it’s important to find one that’s transparent about what you’re actually paying for.
- Going the extra mile: Whether that’s driving out to one of your houses to sort an issue, or arranging a meeting with you at short notice, your agent should go above and beyond to make being a landlord easy.
Property Management in Greater Manchester
Now you have an idea of what property management services you might need, the next step is to find an agent you can trust to look after your property.
At Philip Ellis Estate Agents Manchester, we offer everything we’ve discussed in this article for properties in Greater Manchester, so if you’re considering a property management service, we can help you!
Not only will we ensure your buy-to-let property runs as smoothly as possible, but we’ll also ensure you’re maximising its value with a free lettings valuation. That way, you can be confident you’re asking for the right amount of rent.