Cullen Property Blog

Switching Letting Agency? It's Easier Than You'd Think!

A Comprehensive Guide to Switching Letting Agents: Red Flags and Green Flags

If you're a landlord you will be well aware of the multitude of hoops you need to jump through just to get started and then to stay in business. And once you think you are on top of it, the rules change, not to mention the ongoing hassle of looking after your tenants and keeping your property in good condition to protect your investment.

For these reasons, the majority of landlords use letting agents and property management companies to take care of at least part of their rental business. According to a study by LSE, two-thirds of landlords use an agent to manage their properties fully or for some of the necessary tasks.

Given the importance of both complying with the latest regulations and keeping your property in great condition, what happens if you are not happy with your current letting agent and how do you know if it’s time to part company?

Letting Agent Red Flags

Here are some red flags that should tell you that it’s time for a change.

Red Flags


1. Slow To Respond 

How long does your agent take to get back to you when you ask a question? If they are slow to respond and you are getting frustrated, it's not a good sign.

2. Slow Maintenance Service

Do you know how long they are taking to respond to your tenants, or to act on requests for repairs? If there is an issue with your property you want to be certain that it will be fixed promptly to avoid further damage or more problems in future.

3. High Turnover of Tenants

Changing tenants is expensive and risks leaving the property vacant, with no income coming in. Your agent is the tenants’ point of contact, and so you want their customer service to be good enough to keep your tenants happy.

4. Poor Communication Process

Do you know who to speak to at your property management company? Do you have a single point of contact who knows who you are and knows your property?

5. Late Rent

Do you know when you will receive your rental income and does it arrive on time? Late rent can cause financial issues for landlords who have mortgages and other expenses to pay.

6. Unexpected Fees

The last thing a landlord needs is additional charges and fees that they were not made aware of in advance. There may be charges for inventories, marketing, arranging leases. But you need to know about these in advance. You also want the opportunity to approve any major maintenance and repair costs in advance so that you can budget for the expenditure.


Flat Inpsection

7. Forgotten Inspections

Your letting agent should be carrying out regular, routine inspections to make sure that your tenants are taking care of your property, following the conditions in the lease and that there are no issues that need to be fixed. If these inspections are being missed, you run the risk of having major repair work to do

8. Poor Compliance Knowledge

If your agent is not up to speed with the latest laws, regulations and guidance you could find yourself in trouble. It’s an area that changes with frightening regularity, making it difficult for new or inexperienced landlord to keep up. You therefore need to be able to rely on your letting agent to be on top of all your certifications and licences so that you can continue letting out your property. HMO licences in particular can be a minefield so if you have an HMO licence make sure your agent is experienced in those specific rules so that you can renew it with as little hassle as possible.

How to Switch Letting Agents

If you decide that you want to switch letting agents, first check out our guide to finding the best letting agent in Edinburgh to find out what to look for. Next check your contract with your current agent to find out what the notice period is before appointing anyone new. It’s easier than you’d think to change, and if you choose Cullen Property we will look after the whole process for you. Just follow the steps here and our team will take care of the rest.

Letting Agent Green Flags

Here are the green flags that will let you know you have found the right company.

1. Great Communication

This is one of the most important aspects to look at. Will they keep in touch with you and your tenants, and respond quickly to messages and enquiries? Ask if there are any guarantees in place or if they monitor their response rates.

2. Personalised Service

Will they take your circumstances and preferences into account when they deal with you? Will they get to know you and your property and take ownership of any problems? Do you know who to contact if you need something? For example, At Cullen Property, each client is assigned a trio team who will look after everything related to their property, and so they will always be speaking to the same three people.


3. Inventory and Inspections Service

Do they take your inventory and undertake inspections themselves? It might not sound important, but when you call up to ask a question, you want to speak to someone who has an in-depth knowledge of your property and knows exactly what it looked like when the tenants moved in.

4. Maintenance Team

How do they handle maintenance? Do they have their own team or a dedicated maintenance resource that can respond quickly in an emergency and will also deal with less pressing issues within a reasonable timeframe. Do they guarantee their repairs and do they have an efficient system for tenants to report problems? Do they carry out regular and thorough inspections to identify and remedy any potential issues before they escalate.

5. Accreditations, Qualifications and Insurance

It is vital that your letting agents stay abreast of legal requirements and are familiar enough with landlord regulations to ensure that you comply with all of them. Check for the following:

  • Registered Letting Agent
  • PropertyMark member
  • Member of Client Money Protection (CMP) Scheme
  • Members of the Property Ombudsman
  • Holds Professional Liability Indemnity Insurance of at least £10 million
  • Holds Professional Indemnity Insurance of £500,000
  • PropertyMark ARLA qualified and registered


6. Transparent Fee Structure:

Ask about their fee structure and what is covered by their monthly fees. Check what additional costs might come your way and check if they charge for void periods. When you are choosing agents make sure you are comparing like with like by checking what all the costs would be over the course of a year, including finding and signing up new tenants.

7. High Occupancy

What are their occupancy rates, and how do they go about finding tenants for your property? Do they undertake marketing on a range of different platforms? Do they use a professional photographer to make sure that your property is shown in its best light? What about video tours - are they an option for viewings? Also check if the viewing carried out by your Property Manager who knows you and your property and not a separate viewing agent. At Cullen we have a 99% + occupancy rate across our portfolio, so in the current climate you should be looking for something around those levels.

8. Payment On Time

Do they pay landlords on a set day each month? What happens if there are rent arrears, and do they normally pay on time? Check their track record for prompt and regular payments. At Cullen we typically have zero outstanding rent arrears as it is very rare that we have any rent outstanding by the date we are due to pay our landlords.

Property Management Review

9. Good Track Record and Reputation

Check out their reputation in the local area, and make sure that feedback is predominantly positive from both landlords and tenants and look at their reviews to find out what their clients really think. Independent awards from relevant organisations such as the British Property Awards are a great way to discover the level of customer service an agent provides.

There is no need to stay with a letting agent if you are unhappy with the service you are receiving. If you recognise the red flags, you should consider a move. Check out a few alternative agents and ask them questions to ensure that you see plenty of green flags. Only switch once you are comfortable that the new agent can provide a level of service that is better than the one your are currently receiving.

Talk to us about our award winning property management service and how we can help you switch.