Letting agents are costly and sometimes unreliable. But, how do you go about finding tenants without an agent?
It’s a question that more and more landlords are asking when they feel like their letting agent isn’t offering good value for money.
So, if you want to go it alone, what are your options?
We look at some of the best ways to find a tenant without having to resort to using a letting agent.
Finding A Tenant Without An Agent – Your Options:
Although using a letting agent is often the fastest and easiest way to find a new tenant, that comes at a cost.
Therefore, before biting the bullet and forking out a substantial fee to get your local letting agent involved, it can be worth exploring other options.
Here are some of the main options open to you as a private landlord:
Friends & Family
Let’s start with perhaps the easiest way to find a tenant, rent your property to someone you know (or someone who knows someone you know!).
Ask around your friends and family or post a notice up at work, there’s a chance someone is currently looking or knows someone who is looking for a new property to rent.
Finding tenants in this way has a few obvious advantages. For instance, it won’t cost you anything and you may find someone quickly too. Plus, if they know you they are more likely to be respectful of the property and your agreement.
The downside is that if you experience any problems it can cause friction and strain on your relationship. Still, we know plenty of landlords who rent to friends and family without a hitch.
Local Newspapers & Shops
Let’s go old school! The local classifieds and cards in the newsagent window have long been a favoured route to finding tenants without an agent.
Although such an approach has fallen in popularity (mostly due to the rise of the internet), it hasn’t disappeared entirely.
In fact, many newspapers now also show their classified ads online too, giving you a broader reach.
Of course, it’s rarely free to place classified ads or even cards in shop windows, so there is still a price to pay. However, it’s likely to be significantly cheaper than your local letting agent.
The downside is that classifieds tend to attract an older audience. If you’re trying to attract students or young professionals you may find you receive a lower response rate.
Many house hunters, whether they are looking to buy or rent, now turn to social media. That makes the likes of Facebook and Twitter a potentially good ground for finding tenants without an agent.
Try sharing details of your property on social media and encouraging others to share it too.
Join local property and landlord groups on Facebook and post your rental there as well (providing it’s within the rules of the group).
If you can get enough people sharing, and you post in the right groups, there is a reasonable chance of finding a good tenant.
The best thing with using social media is that it’s entirely free (unless you choose to pay to boost your posts). The downside is that it can take a little time to get the ‘viral’ effect going and you may potentially encounter a few time-wasters.
We mentioned earlier how many newspapers now post their classified ads online. There are, in fact, a number of that essentially offer ‘classified ads’ for the property market.
The most well-known are the likes of Rightmove, Zoopla, and Primelocation (more on these in a moment), but there are also numerous less-known property portals around too.
Some of these, such as The House Shop, allow you to list a property to let on their site 100% free of charge.
“FREE?” I hear you ask. Yes, you heard right.
Such sites make their money from advertising and optional extras when you create your listings. That means they can be an extremely good option when you are trying to find a tenant without an agent.
The downside is that they don’t attract the same levels of visitors as the larger, much better-known portals and so there’s no guarantee you’ll find a tenant quickly.
Can You Advertise On Rightmove Without A Letting Agent?
This is a common question that comes up. Most of the major property portals, including Rightmove, Zoopla, and Primelocation do NOT accept private listings.
They only work with registered estate and letting agents who agree to pay a subscription to be able to advertise properties on their platform.
That means if you want to find a tenant without a letting agent, you won’t be able to advertise the property on any of the major portals.
Given the sheer number of tenants who use the big branded portals, that’s a significant blow to anyone wanting to go it alone.
There is an alternative though, and we’ll get to that in a moment. But first, what about the other negatives of not using letting agents?
The Big Downside – Sorting Out The Paperwork
There are a few potential negatives of trying to avoid using a letting agent.
Firstly, you are likely to need to put more effort into finding tenants. Secondly, you may find it takes longer to find a tenant, and there are no guarantees you’ll find one at all.
However, by far one of the biggest drawbacks for a lot of landlords is that finding tenants without an agent means you are solely responsible for getting the legal paperwork in order.
That means sorting out things like:
- Gas Safety Certificates
- Electrical Safety
- Energy Performance Certificate (EPC)
- Landlord License
If you’ve been a landlord for any amount of time you may already have such things in place. If so, that makes the whole thing a lot less daunting.
However, there’s also the not so small matter of getting a new tenancy set up with all the correct legal paperwork.
This includes things such as:
- Tenant Referencing
- Tenancy Agreement
- Collecting A Deposit & Registering With The TDP
- Landlord Insurance
Some of these are legal requirements for being a landlord and so can’t be ignored.
When you use a letting agent you get advice and even legal documents drawn up for you so there are some real downsides to trying to rent a property without a letting agent.
The Hybrid Approach – Using Online Letting Agents
As you can see, while it is possible to start finding tenants without an agent, there are also plenty of complications and downsides that come with it.
For what you gain in cost savings, you lose in the time and hassle of sorting out all the legal requirements.
But, there is an alternative.
Online letting agents have grown in popularity over the last decade or so as they bridge the gap between using a normal, full-service letting agent and going it alone.
Most operate more as an advertising service focused on finding you a tenant and getting them set up in a legally binding agreement. In essence, it’s a pure ‘tenant finder’ service, though many also offer other services such as inventory checks, rent guarantees and even full lettings management.
That means you can just choose the services you need and avoid the ones you don’t – saving money in the process.
Better yet, most online letting agents will advertise on Rightmove, Zoopla, and Primelocation for you, giving you something you can’t do on your own.
The costs are very favourable (as low as £29 inc VAT), which means they should be a very serious consideration if you’ve ever thought of going it alone.
You can read our online letting agent reviews to find the best option for you.