How to choose a property management company


Owning a buy to let property is a dream for some, but most never realise this dream at all.

Property is undoubtedly the most valuable tangible asset you can own; if it appreciates in value, you can refinance and borrow against it tax-free, and if it gives a high return, it can satisfy your cash flow and act as an income. Historically, it always increases in value. The only downside to property is that you have a tangible asset that will require constant updating and maintenance throughout its ownership.

In my opinion, there is nothing better than a buy to let investment. What better way to become financially free than to put a 25% deposit down, borrow good debt on 75% and for 20-30 years have a tenant pay your capital and repayment mortgage until the end of the term. There is no better pension in my opinion.

On the emotional side of owning a property, many landlords have put their children through private school and universities, paid for holidays and bought more investments through the buy to let model.

However, I do have one bug bear as a leading estate and letting agency owner in Romford: why cheap out on your property management company?

This is the company that is taking care of your asset and your future, if your letting agent and property management company gets in the wrong tenant, then you are paying for it, that is why it is your responsibility as a landlord to do your homework to choose the right agency.

Most landlords will happily pay over £100 for a 2-hour meal on a night out in a restaurant but will not want to pay this amount to manage their asset that is going to put their children through privately funded education or to enable them to obtain the right tenant to purchase more buy to let properties. It baffles me as an owner and investor myself that a landlord would not see the value.

The issue that I believe arises is the fact that a landlord doesn’t know what a good agency vs a bad agency would be doing, then when something goes wrong, they blame the industry, the tenants, and the government rather than themselves.

Here, I will give you a few tips on what a good managing agent will do vs a bad managing agent, again in my humble opinion…

Rent Protection Eligibility

A good letting agent will make sure that the tenancy is eligible for Rent Protection Insurance. Not all tenants are eligible and there is a certain affordability criteria that the tenants would need to pass, many agents and landlords ‘stick anyone’ in the property and that is fine provided nothing goes wrong. Also, policy wording changes a lot during economic seasons, so a good managing agent would be reading the policy wording and constantly updating their education to protect the landlords.

Minor Maintenance Issues

Major maintenance issues will be reported by the tenants as a disruption to their lives, be it the boiler, major leaks, windows, etc… However, minor maintenance issues will usually not be reported by the tenants, this is where the agents need to be doing inspections and picking up on things such as ‘cracked bathroom tiles’ ‘cracked sealant’ and ‘build up in gutters and soakaways.’ Minor maintenance issues usually turn into major ones, and this can cost a landlord money in the long run.

Character Profiling

Everyone knows that feeling of not liking someone after meeting them. It is the same feeling an agent has when picking a tenant, if we do not get a good feel, then we shouldn’t be going with them as a tenant. You are investing in an agency not to just pick up their commission, but to care about your asset as their own. This boils down to the management and leaders that are in the team, this is what you are investing in.

Bank Statements

I have harped on about this many times, a good agency should be looking through a tenant’s bank statements before referencing. You can tell a lot about someone’s life through their bank statements. You can tell if they pay their current rent and bills, if they have savings, where they shop, if they lead a normal responsible life or if they do not. If they have a gambling issue, if they get paid their wages and how frequently. There is a lot to be said by looking through a potential tenant’s bank statement. The Rent Protection Insurance is there just in case, but you don’t want to have to use it if you do not have to.

Systems and Processes

At Keystones Property, we have very smooth systems in place from putting a tenant into a property, to a tenant vacating a property, from onboarding a new landlord to our software system that reminds us of when certificates are due. This is paramount to the legislation of a buy to let being done correctly. Again, if there are no issues with a tenancy then you will not experience this pain, but if there are issues with a tenancy and you can claim on a Rent Protection Insurance, go through court, or evict a tenant, then the paperwork will be the difference between good and bad agencies.

So, the conclusion is this; don’t just go for the cheapest agency, they are usually cheap for a reason, don’t just do it yourself unless you are going to commit to the education properly. Use an agency with the right ethos that can do a job properly and help you maintain peace of mind to build your financial future.

Any questions, feel free to get in touch with me on 01708 909 100 or email me at [email protected].

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  • Keystones Property Collier Row
    13 Clockhouse Lane, Collier Row, Romford, Essex, RM5 3PH, United Kingdom
  • Telephone: 01708 909 100

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