Living

Property management

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Many people rent a property through a lettings agent and automatically expect them to be their point of contact throughout the duration of their stay in the accommodation. Quite often they are frustrated to find that the lettings agent is unwilling to deal with any problems that they encounter and refuses to mediate between the tenant and the landlord in the case of a dispute.

The source of this common misunderstanding is the fact that there are generally two levels of service that a lettings agent can perform for a landlord:

Let only
Apart from the initial contact with the lettings agent, all the dealings that a tenant has in relation to the property are with the landlord. The role of the agent is purely to advertise the property, find and vet a suitable tenant and ensure that the proper administration takes place in terms of paperwork such as tenancy agreements and so on.

Full managed property
Landlords opt for the full property management service when they wish to have as little to do with the property as possible. All dealings that the tenant has in relation to the property are through the lettings company representative (usually known as the property manager).

The basic aim of property management is "to protect and maintain a property to the standard it was in at the beginning of a tenancy, fair wear and tear excepted". This includes overseeing all maintenance and running repairs, except for those things that are obviously the tenants responsibility. At the end of the day, the tenant also has an obligation to take good care of the property and maintain a standard of cleanliness, hygiene and general state of repair that is fair and reasonable. They obviously can't expect their property manager to follow them round with a dustpan and brush, do their washing up or iron their clothes. Not unless they are married to them anyway!

Whether the service is let-only or full property management, the lettings agent will provide professional help for both tenant and landlord with regards to the legal details of agreements, rent, possession, presentation, marketing, managing and maintaining the property.

The lettings agent should also help prepare an inventory of home contents and a condition report, which will be agreed upon by both parties, and reviewed when the premises are vacated.

Many landlords do not live in the area where the property they are renting out is located. Others spend long periods abroad, often for tax purposes. If a tenant can't get hold of the landlord or can't get them to perform a piece of repair work, for example, many tenants will then start badgering the lettings agent through which they found the property. Although some agents will do their best to help, tenants should remember that the agent has made an agreement with the landlord to perform a specific service for the landlord, and there is absolutely nothing that compels them to help out in this sort of situation.

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