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Welcome To Our Online Letting Agents Division

This site is a part of Homefinders.co.uk, an established estate agents and letting agents with headquarters in Gloucester. The estate agency and letting agency world is changing. Tenants and house buyers stopped going to agents’ high street shops many years ago, instead starting their search for a home online and dealing with agents by telephone.  Now landlords and sellers are realising they can save large sums by using online companies. We believe the future is online and consequently we have opened an online letting agents offering a nationwide service. Our services are listed below, and you can read here how Homefinders Online work.

Our Services, Fees And Optional Extras

You probably already know the rent you wish to charge, if not we can offer advice.
Your property will be dvertised on all the main portals like Rightmove, Zoopla, Prime Location, and many dozens of smaller ones. With a reported 98% of tenants and buyers starting their search for a home at one of the property portals it is essential that your property can be seen there, and the only way that can happen is for you to use online letting agents or one of the high street based traditional franchise agencies.

The property portals have completely taken over from the traditional high street shop which is now used just to house staff. Indeed, agents do not even need a website to advertise property to let or for sale as tenants and buyers do not look at those either – although websites are essential for attracting landlords and sellers.

Online letting agents do not accompany viewings for obvious geographical reasons. It usually takes only one or two viewings to find a tenant, so being there is not too time consuming.

However Homefinders will arrange viewings for you – helpful if you work during office hours and do not wish to be interrupted. We provide an individual online calendar for you which shows when you are available to conduct viewings. Our booking staff will use that to book appointments. When an appointment has been made you will receive an email with details and, if the appointment is for later that day you also receive a text message. You will have access to the calendar and will be able to block off times when you are not available.

If you prefer to speak to the prospective tenant first we can ask them to call you to arrange an appointment. In this case we will filter enquiries; for example ask whether the prospective tenant is claiming DHSS or has pets.

It is important not to take tenants on face value and we recommend that we are instructed to check references: we will arrange for a full credit check, and seek employer’s and previous landlord’s references.

The charge fo this is £20. Some Lanlords prefer to pay, or we can charge the tenqant.

We usue the standard Assured Shorthold Tenancy agreement (AST) and usually write this for a term of 6 months. At the end of the term most agents will issue another AST and will charge both the landlord and the tenant renewal fees. What these agents will not tell you is that when an AST reaches the end of the term the agreement automatically changes into a Periodic Tenancy which runs indefinitely and which can be ended by the landlord giving the tenant two months’ notice, and the tenant can give one month’s notice to quit. So if you wish to continue to let the property and the tenant wishes to stay, there is no need for either party to pay a fee. This alone will save you meaningful sums of money.

We arrange for the tenancy agreement to be signed electronically. This has the same legal force as a handwritten signature.

We ask the tenant for a deposit equal to one month’s rent plus £100. This sum is lodged with the Deposit Protection Service (DPS) who will keep the money until the tenant leaves. At that time the money is returned if, and only if, you consent. If there is damage to the property over anjd above normal wear and tear, a reasonable cost will be deducted from the deposit.

It is now a legal requirement for tenants’ deposits to be held by the DPS or a similar body.

We collect the first month’s rent along with the deposit. The rent is forwarded to your bank account.
We have Client Money Protection insurance so in the event of our company ceasing to trade or one of our staff running off with the rent before it can be forwarded to you, you are covered.
If you don’t already have one you will need an Energy Performance Certificate for your property before we can advertise it. We can arrange this at a cost of £45 including VAT if you wish – Righmove and Zoopla will accept our advertisement for your property if we have ordered an EPC.

New rules are being introduced that mean that tenants can require the landlord to upgrade the energy efficiency of a property if the EPC rating is F or G. From next year properties with an F or G rating cannot legally be let.

We will collect the first month’s rent as part of our standard service. If you want us to regularly collect rent we can do so at a cost of £12 including VAT.
A full management service where we collect regular rent payments and arrange repairs is available at a cost of £30 per month including VAT. Regular rent collection is included, you do not have to pay the £12 quoted for this service in addition to the £30.
You are legally required to ensure that the property has a Gas Safety Certificate if gas is suppiled. This must be in place when the tenant moves in and a copy must be given to the tenant. The certificate needs to be renewed every 12 months.
It is important to have an inventory of the property’s contents and condition at the time the tenant moves in. This can take the form of a typed list and photographs showing the condition of each room and the outside (don’t forget the garden).

With tenants’ deposits being held by the DPS, if there is a claim for damage you are far more likely to receive money to cover the cost of repair if you have evidence showing ‘before and after’.

We can arrange for an Inventory but this is hardly rocket science and you will probably have the tiime to do this yourself. If not we can arrange for this at a cost of £85.

Don’t foget to give a copy of the inventory to the tenant.

Although we thouroughly vet tenants before they move in, circumstances can change: redundancy can effect anyone; so you may wish to consider Guaranteed Rent insurtance. The premium depends on the rent – ask for a quote.
Online letting agents do not provide To let boards because couriers will not deliver the pole. Some agents will supply the board at an extra cost and rely on you to buy a pole!

I expect you think the To let board advertises the property to let? NO! As discussed elswhere, tenants search for a home online, not by going to agents’ shops or by looking for boards. The purpose of the To let board is to advertise the agency! Why else would the agent add a ‘Sold’ or ‘Let’ slip to the board? Who needs to know a property has been let? Why not just remove the board? Because the boards are the cheapest form of advertising for the agents. You do not need one.

What Are The Pros And Cons Of Using Online Letting Agents?

The advantages:

  • The obvious one is cost. Online letting agents charge much less than traditional high street based agents who have the expense of the shop and probably the initial and ongoing costs of a franchise – most franchises cost more than £25,000 and the franchisee has to pay about 12-13% of turnover as an ongoing fee.

The disadvantage:

  • Online letting agents do not accompany viewings, nor do we conduct an initial on the spot appraisal. However, it usually takes only one or two viewings before a tenant signs up, so if you can be there you have the opportunity to save a meaningful sum on fees and consequently boost the yield on your investment. Property investment is for the long term and the savings you will make by using an online letting agent will mount up over time. In fact most high street agencies are likely to close in the next few years as their business model is outdated and they will not be able to cope with the competition. Remember high street travel agents?

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