Cheap agents can be just as good, says 5% lettings firm

The director of a growing letting agency has welcomed calls for reform to help weed out property agents that fail to safeguard landlords’ and tenants’ money.

However, Ajay Jagota, managing director at Kis Lettings in the North-East, is stressing that the amount agents charge cannot be used as an indicator of their professionalism and service.

Jagota was responding to comments made on Landlord Today by fellow letting agent Sarah Rushbrook who said that landlords should not simply opt to go with the agent charging the lowest fee.

He said: “Yes, there may be some seemingly bargain agents that need to be avoided, but landlords need to do more research than merely looking at cost to determine whether agents have the expertise and knowledge to provide a quality, secure service.

“In order to remain competitive, there are companies that have developed ways of working smarter so that we can provide the same high-quality service but at a fraction of the cost that other agents might charge.”

He said KIS Lettings, which charges a 5% fee, has invested in an online portal which its landlords can use to access up-to-date details on all of their properties, including marketing information, legal documents and rent payment history.

Jagota said the system means that staff can work smarter. By keeping landlords updated daily online, they receive fewer queries which means administration work is much more efficient.

He also claimed that the company is also innovative in its approach to providing security for landlords through a guarantor scheme which is backed by Prestige Insurance. It means that tenants do not pay a deposit: instead they have a guarantor, normally a family member or close friend, who will act as an insurance and accept liability on behalf of the tenant.

Jagota added: “The bottom line when choosing a letting agent is to do some background research to ensure you choose a reputable company.

“If possible, landlords should meet agents prior to signing any contracts and many can provide recommendations from their existing clients. Most importantly, they need to ensure that there’s insurance in place which covers them should their tenant default.”

Landlord Today’s advice: Make sure that any letting or managing agent you use keeps all client money ring-fenced in a separate account and insured. Ask for proof.