To be or not to be - a property manager?

That is the question - eh?... but just what is the question?  Not whether 'tis more noble to be a landlord - rather whether 'tis more prudent to manage my own property or to get an agent to manage it for me!  

Who can blame a home-owner wanting to rent a property for the first time?  There are many reasons for wanting, or needing, to do so: moving jobs, unable to sell, or simply to invest.  However, neophyte landlords are understandably most at risk of non compliance with the law. Newbie landlords are often unaware of the need to comply or even with what they need to comply.  In court the judiciary are unlikely to show sympathy when passing sentence.  My advice is to only rent a property yourself, if you are informed and have some experience.  If not, initially get an agent to do it for you - at least until you know what is legally, and contractually, required of you, and you gain some experience along the way.  

Ironically, many times we have rented a landlord property for more than the landlord previously achieved by letting it for themselves.  I.e. even after paying agent commission, landlords have been financially better off whilst enjoying more free time to relax or earn from what they respectively do best.  Agents' properties achieve greater marketing exposure via economies of scale, attracting optimal rents.  

Landlords using agents are also somewhat more distanced or cushioned from responsibilities adopted by their agents and can, from Oct 2014, insist upon reliance on one of a handful of redress schemes like the TPO.  Why would inexperienced landlords choose to risk their tenants safety - to say nothing of their own liberty, so recklessly... ?  In an effort to save an agent's commission they could lose considerably more.


Not all agents are aware of legislation regardless of their professional memberships - so how can a landlord distinguish one letting agent from another.  Ask them questions!  If no-one in management can answer, beware! But what sort of questions?  Questions you might reasonably expect a professional agent charging you a fee to know:

  1. E.g. What is a Non Dom and might I be one - this can be a very taxing question for some? 
  2. What is the risk of neglecting to conduct a HHSRS survey?  
  3. Is it a legal requirement for all HMOs to have safe electrics and which legislation makes this compulsory and how can one prove safety and at which two points in time does statute state that this must be evident.  
  4. What is meant by: Mandatory Licensing and how is this different to Additional Licensing or Selective Licensing and does Discretionary Licensing mean Landlord's have a choice and what is the relationship between Discretionary Licensing and Article 4 Directions?  
  5. What is the difference between a large and a small HMO and when might the smaller be larger than the larger or vice versa... ugh...?  
  6. How are the number of storeys calculated in a large HMO or maisonette over shops and should it be Licensed?  
  7. Do I need planning permission to let my property and what are the determinants?  
  8. What is unique about Sui generous – who is she and why is she so generous...?  more.


If you are aware of all such matters without looking them up then you are probably sufficiently knowledgeable to manage your own property! 

Next ask yourself, “Do I have the temperament to cope with call outs on a Sunday?” or to check references, or respond quickly to maintenance and inter-tenant incompatibility issues etc. etc. all outside office hours?