The Benefits of Working With A Rental Agency
The Pros and Cons of Working With a Rental Agency
Whether you own a rental property or are looking to rent, you have probably considered using the services of a rental agency. Rental agents assume a range of responsibilities on behalf of the landlord or property owner. This has the potential to greatly streamline the rental process for both parties and holds the key to many benefits.
If you have recently purchased a rental property or are new to the rental market, you are probably interested in finding out more about the services a managing agent offers and what to expect from the relationship. In this blog, we look at why you should work with a rental agency, exposing the downsides to being a DIY landlord, and give quick tips on how to pick the right rental agent.
What Rental Agents Do
Rental agents and managing agents perform myriad tasks on behalf of property owners and landlords. If you own a rental property outside of your hometown, it is especially useful to have a local agent to take care of your interests. However, there are benefits for local property owners in equal measure. No matter the location of your rental property, a rental agent brings expertise, experience, and efficiency to these tasks.
The exact responsibilities of a rental agent are a question of mandate, which will prescribe the rights and responsibilities between the landlord and the rental agency. Some of these tasks include:
- Screening tenants to ensure a clean credit history and a rental background free from default payments.
- Conducting a pre-occupation or incoming inspection, as well as an inventory list and snag list.
- Marketing the property – whether on to the general rental property market or within their database.
- Dealing with the compilation of a compliant lease agreement and managing negotiations. The rental agent will be involved in all the steps leading up to finalisation of the lease, which includes liaising between the parties and answering any questions potential tenants may have. They will also handle renewals when the time comes.
- Managing the property once a lease is finalised. Where this service is employed, this assists with rental collections, property inspections, municipal bills and levies, and ensures a good relationship between the parties in the long term. The rental agent also manages maintenance issues that may arise, acting in the interests – and on the instructions – of the landlord.
- Ensuring long-term compliance. Working with a rental agency ensures that the details of the rental agreement and the relationship of the parties operate within statutory parameters.
- When the lease is terminated, the rental agent will also take the requisite steps to ensure the end of the agreement is as seamless as possible.
The Benefits of Working With a Rental Agency
It Removes the Stress and Effort That Comes With Owning a Rental Property
Managing a rental property can be a time-consuming and, at times, stressful undertaking. Quantify the time it takes to effectively screen potential tenants, arrange and conduct property viewings, and manage the property and tenants during the course of the lease agreement. These simple tasks alone can eat into the day for landlords, who are often required to balance the best interests of their tenants or potential tenants with their own professional lives and free time.
With distance comes added challenges. If your rental property is in a different city or town, managing this remotely can be immensely difficult and, at times, even impossible. Without question, however, handing these responsibilities over to someone who uses specialist skill to achieve your best interests – whether your rental property is a cottage in your garden or an apartment by the sea on the other side of the country.
It Reduces The Likelihood of Long Vacancies Between Tenants
A good rental agent is valuable for the on-the-ground elements of the rental process, but he or she is also a goldmine of information and advice. A rental agent will immediately let you know if your rent amount is too high or if there is something about the property that is an impediment to renting. They can also work alongside you to ready the property for viewings and tenants.
The scope of a rental agency’s marketing efforts is also more widespread than DIY landlords. From mainstream advertising to exciting social media opportunities and internal resources and tenant databases, rental agencies have the power to broadcast your property’s availability across multiple platforms.
It Increases Your Chances of Landing a Good Tenant
A professional rental agency is au fait with the tenant screening process. Their experience endows them with professional awareness of red flags and warning signs. Additionally, they have tools and resources to conduct credit and reference checks.
It Increases Your Chances of Long-Term Tenant Retention
Securing good-quality tenants is one factor in long-term tenant retention. So too is the managed approach. By maintaining a positive relationship between the parties and resolving issues quickly and professionally, renewed leases are more likely.
It Simplifies Rent Collections
Rental agents pave the way for simple, on-time, and in-full rental collections. As a go-between, they deal with delays, non-payment, and action around unpaid rental amounts. They also manage the proper handling of security deposits.
It Streamlines Maintenance
A rental agent takes over maintenance management of the rental property, helping to quickly and professionally resolve any issues. This ensures maintenance is performed within the provisions of the lease. Long term, rental agents are in a position to alert property owners to upcoming maintenance requirements, which has an impact on the general upkeep (and so retention of value) of the property over time.
It Ensures Compliance
South African law around rental properties can be quite complicated and protects the interests of tenants as a baseline. Rental agencies are familiar with the minutiae of the law for industry-leading, trusted, and fair lease agreements and the ongoing relationship between tenant and landlord. By working with a reputable rental agent, you get peace of mind that your actions and interactions are within the bounds of statute and regulations from the Rental Housing Tribunal.
If, despite the rigorous screening process, you end up with an uncooperative tenant, a rental agency will also institute eviction processes, giving rental property owners confidence that this is being done with legal best practice in mind.
Outsourced and Specialist Dispute Resolution
The very presence of a rental agent can have the effect of mitigating the chance of trouble between the parties. By removing legal grey areas and having a figure of authority administering affairs between the parties, there is reduced likelihood of arbitrary disputes and issues.
How to Choose the Right Rental Agency
Not all rental agencies are made equal. Here are a few quick tips to choosing the right rental agency:
Word of mouth
In doing your research into rental agents, word of mouth is always a useful factor. The good experiences of a friend or neighbour are a positive sign. Experience with similar properties or your neighbourhood gets extra points in the ‘yes’ column.
Work with a well-established rental agency
This goes in-hand with a good reputation and comes with a range of benefits – like an extensive network, far-reaching marketing abilities, and tools and resources to enrich their service offering.
Ask to see an FFC and any other certifications
All rental agencies are required to have a valid Fidelity Fund Certificate or FFC and be registered with the Property Practitioners Regulating Authority (PPRA. You are entitled to view this if you are considering enlisting the services of a rental agent. Find out upfront if the rental agency holds any other certifications or belongs to any other associations. This could have a bearing on everything from credit screening capabilities to property management track records.
Ensure their offering is a match for your needs
Find out what services the rental agency is offering to determine if the mandate will meet your requirements. Go into detail here. If protection from legal disputes is one of your primary objectives, find out if they are aligned with a firm. If you have particular concerns or unique circumstances, broach this right away to find out if this would be a limitation to your arrangement.
Find out about fees
Take the time to find out about the different components of the rental agent’s fee structures in advance. If you are shopping around for the right fit, this differentiator could make or break a deal.
Read and understand contracts
Always read contracts with a critical eye. Go through all the provisions of the mandate and address any questions you may have before signing. Similarly, go through the lease agreement with a fine-tooth comb and raise any uncertainties or concerns with the rental agent to prevent misunderstandings and issues down the line.
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