Letting agents are all about finding you a short term or long term let, or even a serviced apartment. Some letting agents share offices with estate agents (who sell properties), in fact most agents work across both the sales and lettings markets. Some agents specialise in lettings only. Usually there is no difference between agents affiliated to an estate agent, or those who only offer rentals, but in some areas the lettings agents cater for cheaper properties and can offer rooms for rent, which the agents working out of estate agent offices won’t. You should register with both types of letting agent, to maximise your choice of property.
Property Portals give you an insight into flats for rent or houses to let. More importantly you must make contact with physical Letting Agents at the start of your search. New rentals will be notified and shown to serious renters before a listing goes up on a website – make sure you are first in line by reading our guide below.
To get ahead of others looking to rent a property, you need to come across as a genuine renter.
How do I Show I am a Genuine Renter?
A. Follow our Personal Rental Checklist to ensure you will be able to proceed if you find a good property.
B. Personal Contact. You should search for a list of all the agents in your chosen area (you’ll find the names popping up on the search results anyway). Ensure you include all the small agents in your list.
At a minimum phone every agent during working hours and create a specific contact. Much better is to take the time to drop in and visit each Agency in person. Why? Simple: agents are only interested in serious renters.
Calling on the phone, or in person, shows the agent you are ready to rent. They will prioritise who they call when new properties become available. You need to be at the top of this list (in the first batch of phone calls they make) otherwise good properties will rent before you even know of them.
C. Honest, Specific requirements. Let the agent know:
Price range (weekly or monthly budget’)
Renting circumstances (will it just be you on the tenancy or are you renting with others, when you need to move in, when you can be available for viewings)
‘Must have requirements’ (2 bedrooms, no more than 10 minutes from the tube station)
‘Nice to have requirements’ (outside space, near to the high street)
Absolute ‘no no’s’ (perhaps you hate blocks of flats with no lifts, or basement flats, let the agent know)
The more the agent knows upfront, the less time will be wasted on alerting you to properties you won’t like. It also shows you have thought about your rental and are ready to deal.
Giving each agent your requirements opens up a conversation around the number of available properties and if you are realistically going to find what you want in that area. That conversation gives you a reality check and keeps you in the Agents mind, for when your ideal property comes up.
D. Politeness. Always be polite to agents (they are humans too – honest! and will treat you how you treat them). Respond with Honest feedback, when they give you an initial list of properties or new properties and Always after a viewing. If you are called about a property or go on a viewing you aren’t helping the agent if you don’t give feedback. How will they know if they should show you a similar property? They may just think you are a time-waster.
It is okay to give this feedback by email if you prefer. It may well be you just don’t “feel” the property. That’s hard for an agent to interpret so give them something specific, for example: too close to the main road; don’t like the layout; I want a kitchen next to the lounge; communal parts too grotty.
Agents will not only appreciate this feedback, they’ll save you time on future viewings by only calling you on properties that don’t have your dislikes. Or they may suggest different properties, to those you thought would work best, for example a larger property in a different part of the area that you would have thought is too far from the station, yet has a quick bus route into central London.
If an agent hasn’t called you in while, a nice touch is to call or email and say “just to say we haven’t noticed any new properties listed with you recently; we’re still actively looking, so hopefully you’ll find us something soon!” This is polite, gets you noticed and keeps you in the frame in-front of other renters looking for a similar property.
E. Keep them informed. Should you start looking at properties or areas then change your mind, it’s not a problem, just let the agent know. You may realise you can handle a longer walk to the tube station, if you are nearer a park; maybe you only want to live in a small part of your chosen postcode. Perhaps you would consider flats aswell as houses. As your mind changes, let your agent know. They will make notes, ensure they show you properties they wouldn’t have before and they know you are still serious!