On the surface of it, lettings and property management companies in Edinburgh can appear to be very similar. They look like they all offer the same letting and property management services for roughly the same price, but if you ask anyone who has used the services of more than one letting agent in Edinburgh, they will tell you just how different things can be in practice. The letting and property management cycle is complex and different companies carry it out in different ways and with very different ethos. So if you are a landlord who is new to the Edinburgh private rental market, how do you know what you are letting yourself in for? Here are some things to consider to prevent you from making a bad choice.

Online Reviews

The first place to start is with online reviews. Websites like Google and AllAgents allow current landlords and tenants to review the quality of service from Edinburgh letting agents. These reviews provide a valuable insight into the service level provided by any letting agent you are considering. The bigger the number of reviews, the more integrity in the results. It is also worth reading some of the worst reviews given to a letting agent to read about the experience that has led to the writing of the review and to see how the agent has responded. Letting agent responses to negative feedback give you a good indicator of how they are likely to handle any issues during your tenancies. In summary, trust online reviews that are high in volume (in the hundreds) and with a good overall score.

ARLA Propertymark Protected

There are not many new landlords who realise that the letting agent sector has a voluntary regulator, ARLA Propertymark. Letting and property management companies can choose to become regulated agents and doing so provides many benefits for the letting agent and protection for the landlord. ARLA Propertymark protected letting agents must meet strict criteria relating to the qualifications of their staff, the way in which they handle client money (yours and your tenants money), the level of insurance cover that they hold and they must subscribe to a strict code of conduct. In summary, the letting agent must work to a much higher standard than the other letting agents in the sector. No other letting agent body offers the same level of scrutiny and accountability. The benefit for the customers of protected letting agencies is that the service level they receive is likely to be of a significantly better standard and if anything goes wrong, ARLA Propertymark will give you your money back.

Watch Out for Hidden Fees

Most new landlords will compare prospective letting and property management companies by using the management fee as a benchmark (i.e. the percentage of the monthly rent) but the price comparison should not end there. New landlords should ask prospective letting agents to provide a copy of their terms of business so that you can identify everything an agent is going to charge and what is covered in the event of unforeseen circumstances during the tenancy. The terms of business should not be too long or confusing and should be easy to understand – if you can’t understand their contract, this is not a good sign. You should expect their charges to be clear and upfront. Once you have the detailed fee information you can add up the real cost of their services. Cheaper is not always better and clarity around what you will be paying for is just as important.

Do you like them?

By considering online reviews, ARLA Propertymark Protection and hidden fees, you will be making a much better-informed decision on your letting and property management agent. If these are not enough to help you identify the letting agent for you then your decision should come down to your personal impressions of the company. You can look at how the company treats its employees and if they work with their local community but most importantly, how did they make you feel when you contacted them. Letting agents are not property businesses, they are people businesses. You are choosing a partnership that should last for years – it’s important that you trust and like the people you are going to be dealing with.