Dick Turpin Wore A Mask!

My experience with letting agents has been somewhat mixed.

Some agents are brilliant, whilst others…. not so much.

In Manchester, where the majority of my portfolio is based, I have tried probably fifteen different letting agents and have ended up with one really good company who find me tenants fast and pay me what I’m owed on time, every time.

When I first started investing I had a rather less focused approach to where I wanted to invest geographically. I was more interested in doing the deals than thinking about the logistics in the future. If I had my time again I’d definitely have all my properties located close to where I live, and not scattered across the country.

I bought a couple of off plan properties about sixty miles from where I lived, and the developer recommended a letting agent.

We had about eighteen months of things going ok. The lettings were a bit slow at first and the money was a bit hit and miss. I took my eye off the ball for a period of about two years, as I was really busy focusing on my main business.

Up to then I had done my accounts myself and they weren’t kept up to date, and to be honest, I didn’t really have a clue about money.

My wife had just been made redundant and it seemed like a good idea for her to get my paperwork in some sort of order.

Whilst checking through the bank statements it seemed that we had not received any payment for over twelve months from our letting agent – surely this had been an admin error?

I rang the agent several times, but he didn’t return any of my calls – things were starting to look pretty bad, and I didn’t have a good feeling about the outcome.

To cut a long story short, the letting agent, turned out to be a one-man-band. He’d fallen on hard times and hadn’t been paying the rents. He wrote me a very apologetic letter in which he explained that he was in dire financial straits and asking if I would I accept a sum of money that was nearly half what he actually owed me spread out over the next twelve months.

It seemed like the guy had been telling the truth and had some CCJ’s against his name so my view was not to push too hard and to work to recoup what I could with an agreed repayment plan.

Eventually, I got half the money back over the next twelve months, and I’ve since heard that he’d been declared bankrupt, so I’m not sure if I escaped easily or not.

Lessons learned:

  1. Keep your books up to date
  2. Make sure you get paid by whoever manages your properties
  3. Check out letting agents thoroughly BEFORE you let them manage your properties
  4. Look after your wife ( or husband)  – especially when they have access to your bank account!
The Buy To Let Landlord