Scores of property investors own real estate outside of the city or town that they live in and struggle to manage the property themselves, they therefore look for a reputable letting agency that will find them a tenant, take care of admin work and keep an eye on things. This service is of course not free and the letting agents do a get a cut of the rent every month.
But what do you do when the company you have chosen does not perform?
A friend of mine owns a property in a nice area in Johannesburg and was looking for a new letting agent and tenant. The previous two tenants had vacated the property, apparently without notice, and on both occasions the letting agency did not inform my friend that the tenants had left until three months later. In this instance my friend had landlord insurance that covered the rent for a three month period and only when this ran out did the agents start looking for a new tenant. Talk about poor service!
My friend ended his relationship with the first letting agency and soon found a new company that has a reputation for excellent service across the country. The happiness was shortlived though as the new company took almost four months to find a tenant for the well priced apartment that is close to all amenities. The agency then proceeded to allow the tenant to move in before paying the first months rent and consented to let the tenant split the deposit over a two month period.
When my friend realised that the first months rent had yet to be paid they called the agency and asked what had happened, the agent was surprised to hear of the problem and contacted the tenant who said they had already paid the money over. My friend waited a few days and still no rent so they again called the agent who again contacted the tenant. The tenant then said that they would actually only be paying the rent in that day. At this stage my friends bond was in danger of going into arrears.
The tenant did eventually pay but turned out to be another tenant from hell and was eventually evicted after a long legal process.
This long story eventually leads me to question the ability of letting agents, even the supposedly reputable ones. Do they not check a tenants references or follow up with the owner of the property as to whether or not they are satisfied and have been paid? If they perform poorly by forcing the owner to become involved should they not be held accountable?
It seems some letting agents are happy to take your money and install the first tenant that says they can pay the first months rent and deposit. They should be held accountable when they perform poorly and put an investors credit record in jeopardy by selecting a bad tenant.
You as the property owner need to protect yourself by being informed, demand monthly statements if they do not offer to provide them, and do spot checks if you feel it necessary. You are paying for a service and should get your money’s worth. Looking at the current market there doesn’t seem to be shortage of people looking for quality rental accommodation and the majority of these people will be good tenants who pay on time and observe their contractual obligations regarding giving notice and so forth.
Some agencies just appear to be lazy.
What do you think? Should letting agencies be more accountable for their apparent poor judgement?