This is a classic and much-debated question that ultimately may have no set answer.
Here are some of the typical pros and cons to help you form some views – if you don’t already have them:
- managing agents may allow the freeing up of a lot of your time, as they typically will take on board a significant number of the admin tasks involved in managing let properties (showing tenants around, taking inventories etc);
- they place a buffer between you and your tenants. That may avoid you needing to become personally involved in resolving every single issue that arises. They may also be able to shield you from minor disputes that might arise with tenants from time to time;
- as they should field all initial tenant calls, you may find that you do not need to maintain a permanent telephone presence yourself;
- they may be able to more effectively market your property than you can yourself;
- they may be able to help you with cost-effective second-level services such as cleaning and garden maintenance etc;
- on the downside, they will, of course, take a percentage of your rental income;
- sometimes they may not always escalate things to you in line with your own judgement;
- their presence on and around your property may complicate your legal liabilities and your requirements for let property insurance. For example, in certain situations, the law may interpret their personnel on your property as being your employees and that may introduce issues relating to employers’ liability cover;
- relationships with tenants may sometimes be confused by having a third party involved and misunderstandings might arise a little more easily than would be the case if you always had direct personal contact;
- legal liabilities may also become blurred in some situations. Remember that if you appoint agents and they make statements or issue undertakings on your behalf to tenants or other third parties, then you may be bound by them even if you subsequently find that you are not in agreement.
Each individual landlord may have his or her own views about managing agents. It’s a big subject and one worth thinking about carefully.