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"Moving away from our agent was the best thing we ever did"

Updated: Jan 24, 2022

I don't think I would have thought to ever utter those words a few years ago. But here we are - so how did it get to this?

For over a decade, Andrew and I were firm believers - "lettings were for letting agents". It was the done thing back in Australia and we saw no different. That being said, we both had demanding full time jobs and when we expanded our property portfolio in the UK, I was absolutely terrified at the thought of communicating with tenants (if it went wrong) and the bombardment of legislation thrown at landlords. One wrong move...and it's game over.

It wasn't until I had "time" during my first round of Maternity Leave that I had the time to read & educate myself that I realised, maybe this thing isn't as bad as it sounds?

After increasing high street agent letting fees, we started to not see the value in having a letting agent at all. I was still managing the managing agent! I was calling the shots, getting quotes for maintenance (because the ones we did have were extortionate) and overall - very little value for money.

I found the National Landlords Association - NLA (Now NRLA) and did their foundation course of landlording & letting. This then gave me the confidence to tackle issues on my own or at the very least, increase my knowledge and actually know what I was doing and where my legal obligations were. Fun fact: It's still on you as the landlord.

When we expanded into HMOs in 2019, I wanted a little bit of a hands on approach, but still wanted an arms length. So we decided to trial an online company called Howsy. It worked well when we had 1 HMO. Then we started to scale - and quickly. 5 tenants turned into 18 and Howsy just couldn't customise to what we wanted. They weren't set up for HMOs in our experience. We did however move our single lets over to them and they worked like a dream.

Fast forward to Oct 2021, we were in the position to terminate their services and take it on our own. It took 6 months of set up before we could get to that point. Hiring a VA to take on the admin, putting in basic systems and processes to ensure the transition was smooth.

It's now been a few months. We are still refining and improving our systems and processses but overall have seen a HUGE benefit in self management.

  • Better visibility of rents that come in on time (not 5 - 8 days after a Go Cardless payment)

  • Better pre screening of viewers for new rooms hitting the market

  • Better time slotting during block viewings because I control my viewing diary

  • Better conversions from viewings (thanks to much tighter pre screening)

  • Better visibility of the check in process & admin, which I've discovered is a 50+ step process

  • Better relationships & communication with our tenants from Day 1 - increasing levels of tenant care not having to go through a middle man who just couldn't process bespoke admin.

It's definitely not for everyone - it is more time-consuming. Our Australian portfolio is still managed by agents & it works really well. But our UK portfolio, it made more sense because of the level of control we had over the process.

For anyone looking to self mange or educate themselves about any aspects of landlording, I highly recommend joining the NRLA. Their Advice line alone is worth their annual membership fee!

For £15 off your first year of membership, click here for a referral code:

[Insert link to NRLA referral code]

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