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Landlords - be vigilant when using an agent

PUBLISHED: 10:22 16 March 2018 | UPDATED: 10:33 16 March 2018

If you're unsure about your agent, try my tips on what to do, says Mike White of Martin & Co. Picture: www.thinkstockphotos.co.uk

If you're unsure about your agent, try my tips on what to do, says Mike White of Martin & Co. Picture: www.thinkstockphotos.co.uk

Archant

Hands-up who enjoys March in England? No, me neither and nor do most property manager as we deal with fences being blown down, boilers conking out, roofs mysteriously springing leaks and so on, writes Mike White of Martin & Co in Norwich.

Mike White, Martin & Co. Picture: Archant.Mike White, Martin & Co. Picture: Archant.

But, like other well established, well-funded letting agencies, we don’t have to contend with the chill wind that is blowing through the industry and threatening the livelihoods of so many people.

Lots of agents are finding it tough right now, particularly those incorporating a sales operation that depends on selling properties quickly.

Locally, this has been drawn sharply into focus recently with the closure of eight estate agent branches of one franchise.

So, how do you protect yourself from your agent going bust?

My regular readers will know that I have bleated on in the past about landlords needing to be careful to whom they entrust their valuable assets.

Landlords need to continue to be vigilant for any potential problems arising with their chosen agent.

In my opinion, there’s two tell tale signs to watch out for; first, if you notice an upsurge in contractors being required to remediate property related issues – this may be because your agent may be taking commissions from contractors and will see the opportunity to bolster cashflows by ‘inventing’ jobs to be undertaken.

The higher priced the job is, the bigger their percentage cut will be.

This is a dreadful, nasty, deceitful practice at the best of times and, my sincere wish, is that it is outlawed when the industry finally gets properly regulated as the government have promised.

The next thing to look out for is delays in receiving your rent payments.

Take a note of the date in the month you usually receive payment and if that starts drifting, then get onto your agent straightaway.

Agents with cashflow issues will be robbing Peter to pay Paul, however, this is not sustainable and can quickly go south. It is important to be shouting the loudest, it will be those who don’t who end up losing the most.

Delays should not be tolerated and certainly, don’t leave it until payments dry up or become sporadic; you need to be long gone before that happens.

You can contact Mike White, of Martin & Co in Norwich, sponsors of this column, on 01603 766880. www.martinco.com/estate-agents-and-letting-agents/branch/norwich

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Caroline Culot

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I am the property editor in charge of delivering some exciting and informative content within Archant’s varied titles. We have 16-17 pages of stories, features and columns in the EDP Property supplement out every Friday free in your EDP so please don’t miss it.

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