If you’re living abroad and renting out a property in the UK, it’s in your best interest to hire a property management company to act on your behalf.

Hiring a property management company helps to alleviate responsibilities such as finding tenants for your property, carrying out credit checks and to showing them around. Leases and inventories will also need to be signed and witnessed. It’s likely that there could also be ongoing maintenance issues to organise, like regular boiler and gas checks.

But who should that someone be? Should you, for instance, sign up with a small, independent, maybe even family-run business? Or what about going with one of the big names in the business?

Benefits of choosing an independent managing company

  • You should get a much more personal service with a family-run or one-man band-type of agency since the team is so small, they’ll all get to know your name and property well enough in no time;
  • Instead of having a flat rate for charging e.g. 12% of the rental income, a small firm should be able to come and go e.g. only charge for the hours they spend on your property, together with a small joining fee. So, in a good year this could work out far less expensive than signing up with a national organisation.

Negatives of a smaller property management company

  • They may not always have the staff to deal with a maintenance issue at your flat, so it may go unchecked for days;
  • If it’s an individual, when he or she goes on holiday, who is left to look after your property?

Benefits of going for a bigger firm to manage your property

  • When searching for new tenants for your property, they’ll likely have a bigger pool to choose from thanks to the size of their website audience;
  • They’ll have a sizeable budget to advertise with e.g. taking out adverts in printed or online publications, printing flyers etc.

Negatives of a bigger property management company

  • They may have so many clients on their books at the one time that your maintenance issue may not get dealt with straight away;
  • You may have to speak to a different individual on each occasion because there’s so many staff. You could end up feeling ‘like a number.’

Whoever you end up employing to run your buy to let business, it’s far better to go with a word of mouth recommendation than doing a quick internet search.

Big changes afoot in the sector

At present, the property manager sector is unregulated – but that may all be about to change. That’s because on 1st April 2018 the government announced new proposals. These include more transparency regarding costs and quicker repair times. At the same time, an independent regulator is to be appointed to oversee disputes and ensure compliance. Failure to adhere to the new code of practice could result in a court appearance if the complaint is severe enough.

Other proposed measures include a qualification and ongoing professional development for trainees.