Landlords’ Guide: Finding a Reliable Letting Agent in Hertfordshire

Monday, September 18th, 2023

Whether you’ve just secured your first or have an established portfolio of properties, appointing a good letting agent is a pivotal decision.

A good letting agent will simplify and minimise your compliance paperwork, reduce potential stresses, save time, and help you to maximise your investment. The question is: how do you identify the good letting agents and avoid the bad?

All letting agents will likely claim they’re good… or even great! But with a little independent research, you can identify which agents really are ‘good’ – before you entrust your property into their care.

Here are our quick tips on identifying the good agents and avoiding the bad!

  • Reverse their Google reviews.

If landlords and tenants have taken the time to write glowing Google reviews for a letting agent, that’s a reassuring sign. You should also reverse the default sort order to explore any less favourable reviews.

Even if there are only a few disappointed customers, knowing about them is valuable. Every business tends to get one or two unfavourable Google reviews – but how a letting agent responds to these is revealing. Ideally, you want to see quick, polite, professional responses focused on fixing the problem. This will give you a good indication of how the letting agent deals with challenges if they arise.

  • Do some window shopping.

Explore how a lettings agency presents its property listings, and take note of the quality of the photography, floor plans, and written descriptions. All these elements should be professional, error-free, and appealing.

If they are, that’s a great sign. You should feel 100% confident that when it comes to marketing your property, your letting agent will advertise it in a way that achieves maximum rental value and attracts the best tenants.

  • Go undercover.

We’re not suggesting James Bond levels of espionage here, just a quick mystery shop. Simply pretend to be a potential tenant and enquire about a current property. Take note of how the letting agent responds. Are they responsive and informative, or slow and unhelpful? Do they quickly secure a viewing at a time that suits you?

Based on your findings, you’ll gain a good sense of whether you’d be happy for the agency in question to field potential tenants for your property.

  • Apply the flexibility test.

Renting isn’t a 9-5 business. Ideally, you want a letting agent that can offer a reasonable degree of flexibility. Many potential tenants work full-time, so offering viewings outside office hours is a great start.

Beyond that, if a property emergency arises – a broken boiler or a burst pipe – having a letting agency that can respond rapidly can be extremely helpful.

The flexibility rule applies to other areas too. For example, can the agency provide services such as key-holding or additional property visits (free of charge)? The more the agency can offer, the more it indicates a willingness to go the extra mile to keep landlords and tenants happy.

  • Taking care of your property.

Most letting agencies offer a property management service to cover the maintenance of your tenancy agreement and property. If you’re considering property management, it’s advisable to ask who will provide the service.

Many letting agencies have a centralised management team, potentially located far from your property. This can be problematic, as a remote team can’t compete with a locally-based letting agent. A local agent can visit your property and should have a trusted network of local tradespeople for any required maintenance tasks.

  • Discover if they skimp on advertising.

Run a quick search on Rightmove to see if your chosen letting agent pays to advertise properties there. If they aren’t advertising here, then question why.

Rightmove is more costly than other advertising channels, but it also brings in the most leads – which means a wider choice of potential tenants and shorter void periods between tenants.

  • Ask for some tenant stats.

Certain tenant statistics reveal a very telling picture. We suggest asking two key questions:

  1. Do you have any rent defaults currently?
  2. How many tenants have you served notice to in the past 12 months?

The answers will provide a good insight into how effective an agency is at selecting suitable tenants and whether thorough checks are undertaken at the outset of a tenancy.

Ideally, you want the answers to either be ‘none’ or certainly very few (depending on the agency size). For example,
at M A S O N S, we have managed properties since 2008, and so far, only one tenant has defaulted on rent.

Once you’re satisfied…

Having done some homework before appointing an agent, you can proceed with more confidence that your selected agent will provide the excellent property management service you deserve.

On the lookout for a good letting agent right now?

We invite you to put M A S O N S to the test, using the above tips and anything else you’d like to ask us! We take pride in being straightforward and open with landlords and tenants, so ask away at 01462 557 477 or [email protected] and we’ll be in touch.

M A S O N S is a leading letting agent in Hitchin, covering rental and buy-to-let properties in Hertfordshire and beyond. Founded on award-winning lettings experience, we specialise in property management, buy-to-let in Hitchin, and residential lettings.