For some reason, switching letting agents is one of those things that you just don’t do. It falls into the same category as changing your bank, your internet provider, or your phone contract: you know you might save a bit of money, but the hassle just doesn’t seem worth it.
Well guess what? Things are changing. Traditional estate agents might take advantage of your fear of the unknown, trapping you into staying with a service that’s just ‘fine’ – but it’s actually far easier to switch agents than you might think. And there’s a lot for savvy landlords to gain by doing so.
1. You could pay much less
Ultimately, pricing is probably your first priority when deciding whether to switch letting agents. And you’re right to be sceptical of the prices charged by traditional agents. Especially since the introduction of legislation like the Tenant Fee Ban (which eliminates a lot of the fees agents are used to getting from tenants), many letting agents are simply finding ways to transfer that ‘lost income’ onto their landlords.
This is where the new breed of agents come in. Our pricing systems are totally different – instead of stacking fees for each service, repair, or item of paperwork, newer agents may give you a flat fee that covers everything you’ll need as a landlord. (Howsy do exactly that – and our plans start at just £35/month). It could be worth switching just to know all your costs are covered in one place, and especially if it’s going to be cheaper.
2. New ideas and technology
Unlike traditional letting agents, newer agents aren’t set in their ways. We don’t just do things ‘because it’s always been done this way’. Simply put, we’re more likely to be keen, flexible, and eager to impress you – and we’ve got the tools to show the dinosaurs how it’s done.
Take this quote from Howsy founder Calum:
‘We don’t indulge in stylish offices and fancy cars. We keep our operational costs low, and use the best technology to automate routine tasks, so our focus is on you and your tenants.’
Up and coming tech solutions can save online agents so much time and cost, we’re able to spend more time on building better relationships with our landlords, and reduce the upfront cost for our customers too. So a newer agent’s service isn’t just likely to be cheaper – it could be better, quicker, and more personalised.
3. Better communication
Maybe your agent was great at the start, but their service has tailed off now they’ve got your business? Once the honeymoon period is over, it can feel like you’ve been pushed to the bottom of the to-do list.
Especially compared to more traditional estate agents, online agents can offer quicker and communication on the platforms that suit you best – text, chat, phone, whatsapp, email, online dashboards. Some agents even offer 24/7 availability instead of working strict office hours (we certainly do 😎).
When you run into issues with late rent payments, maintenance issues or finding a new tenant at short notice, the last thing you want is your agent dragging their feet – so switching agents can be worth it just to know you’ll actually get someone useful on the end of the phone, whenever you need them.
Getting itchy feet? We don’t blame you! Luckily, switching agents can be much easier than you think. Here’s what you need to do:
- Give notice.
- Check your contract for how long this needs to be. It can make sense to wait until the end of a tenancy agreement, but you don’t have to.
- Pay any exit fees.
- It depends on your contract, but if the agent hasn’t delivered on what they agreed at the start, you may be able to negotiate these fees down, or in the case of a serious breach of contract, waive them completely.
- Keep your tenants informed.
- Get your tenants’ contact details if you don’t have them, and get in touch to reassure them that it’s just the agent you’re changing, not them (unless they’re part of the problem – then you might need to think about evictions).
- Arrange the transfer of the deposit.
- Make sure it’s securely transferred from one scheme to another, as there are very strict requirements for handling your renter’s deposit – it shouldn’t go anywhere near your personal account! This doesn’t need to be a hassle, though: your new agent should be able to take care of it for you.
- Collect keys and paperwork from your old agent.
- Set up your new tenancy agreement with the new agent.
- Benefit from the level of service you should have been getting all along – at a cheaper price 😉
If that list looks like a lot of hassle, that’s okay – because ALL of this can be handled by your new agent. They can liaise with your old agent on everything from drawing up new agreements to speaking to your tenants, to collecting the keys and sorting out the deposit.
If the honeymoon phase is over and your agent is giving you sub-par service, you don’t have to put up with it. Get in touch with us to find out how much time, money and hassle you could save by switching agents.