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Tips on choosing the best Edinburgh letting agent

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September 13, 2019 No Comments

Tips on choosing the best Edinburgh letting agent


Posted by Daniel Denisiuk in Blog

What to look for when you choose your property manager

New landlords looking for a good Edinburgh property management company can face a daunting task. A quick Google search for ‘Edinburgh letting agents’ shows 5,540,000 results! But are the letting agents shown on the first page the best property managers? Will you trust them with your investment worth perhaps hundreds of thousands of pounds? Will you have the time to browse through first 3-4 pages of Google hits and then follow up? We have prepared a list of things to consider while searching for and choosing people who will manage your property.

Have They Registered as Letting Agents?

Scottish Letting Agent Register is a governmental database of all registered Scottish letting agents. Property managers who operate unregistered and do not comply with the Letting Agent Code of Practice commit a criminal offence. One would think that all agents are registered –but this is not altogether true. In March 2019 alone almost 100 businesses were investigated for failing to join the Scottish Letting Agent Register. So the first step in seeking a good Edinburgh letting agent is to check if your shortlisted property managers can be found in the register.

Property Qualifications

All key letting agents must carry SCQF level 6 qualifications in Residential Lettings and Scottish Property Management. There are two such qualifications available: 

  • NFOPP (National Federation of Property Professionals) Technical Award in Residential Letting and Property Management.
  • LETWELL Certificate in Letting and Managing Residential Property.

NFOPP qualification consists of 4 examinable modules. Currently exams take place in Pearson Vue test centres. LETWELL qualification comprises 5 training days and a written assessment. 
While looking for an Edinburgh based letting agent, check if their key members are properly qualified. In our opinion, examinable modules demand more studying and more thorough knowledge then components that require written assessment.

Referrals and Recommendations

By this point you will have established which shortlisted letting agents are registered and carry proper qualifications. Do you happen to have any friends who used their services as landlords? Perhaps some relatives of yours were their tenants? Ask your friends and colleagues for their opinion. Are they satisfied with their current letting agents? You should trust recommendations from people you know and act on them. If possible, try to obtain recommendations from the owners of similar properties. A landlord of a newly built flat will most likely tell you they did not have any issues with high maintenance and repair charges. Will it help you if you own a flat in a traditional Edinburgh tenement building with its usual share of problems?

Reviews

Online reviews can help you weed out mediocre letting agents, but you need to be looking at a ratio of bad to good reviews, not the total number of reviews. We would also recommend to take local letting agents with reviews in the high hundreds with a pinch of salt. The screenshot below shows the reviews of SME Professional, most likely the best property management software providers in Scotland. As of 13.09.2019, they had only 28 reviews (all 5 star though).

Google My Business image of SME Professional.
One of the best property management software providers in the UK, and yet only 28 reviews.

So how come some local letting agents have managed to aggregate hundreds of reviews? It is a good question. We have heard of some contractors who give gift vouchers for a review! Other companies actively chase customers for reviews. The point is – hundreds of reviews of a local letting agent guarantee they are good at marketing. But are they really good at property management? You’d better ask somebody you know who actually use their services.

ARLA Propertymark

ARLA Propertymark (NFOPP) is the most recognizable professional and regulatory body for UK letting agents. It’s over 9000 operate to a significantly higher standard than Scottish law demands. Propertymark Client Money Protection Scheme safeguards landlord’s funds. 
Due to the high level of accountability and a strict code of conduct, we recommend to take into consideration only ARLA Propertymark associated letting agents. ARLA letting agents don’t usually charge higher commissions and you will have the peace of mind of professionals managing your property. Why risk your precious investment?

Terms and Conditions

Most letting agents in Edinburgh charge 10%+VAT of rental income for full property management. Some are cheaper – but you need to beware of sneaky charges of seemingly less expensive letting agents. How much will you have to pay for the marketing fee? £150; £200 or £300? Are inventories included in the full management package? Will you have to pay for tenant referencing? What about tenant changeovers requiring a new lease? Are tenancy deposit transfers covered? We strongly recommend to check the terms and conditions before signing any landlord agreement – or you may end up paying many property management fees you were not even aware of. The term ‘full property management’ is sometimes misleading.

Letting Agents’ Social Profile

If all else fails and you still cannot decide on which Edinburgh letting agent to choose, check their social profile! After all, property management is great and all agents should share the love of real estate, but there is life besides it. What do they do after work? Do you have any common hobbies with potential agents? Do they actively support any charities or local groups? If you think they are nice people – why not give them a try?


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