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Is it Worth Self-Managing a Rental Property in the UK?

Traditional property management agencies are expensive, but self-managing a property can be time and labour intensive. So which is the best option?

Avoid hefty agency costs with Flex Living's zero fees Property Management alternative.
Alice
Alice

Author

You’ve decided to let your property – congratulations! Now you need to choose whether you’re going to manage the rental property yourself or enlist the help of a property management company to manage it for you. With an increasing number of landlords opting to self-manage rental properties, it’s trending to ‘do it yourself’ to save on management fees. However, there are things to consider before independently venturing  down the demanding path of self-managing rental properties. Read on to discover what’s entailed in how to manage your own property rental in the UK.

In this article, we are going to discuss :

Self-Managing Rental Properties: What Does it Involve?

Self-managing a rental property means you act as both landlord and property manager. You are responsible for both your tenants and the running of your property.

As a self-managing landlord, you will deal with all the duties of a typical letting agent on top of your landlord responsibilities, including the following:

  • Finding tenants (including completing credit and background checks)
  • Dealing with tenant queries
  • Creation of tenancy agreements and knowledge of different types of tenancies
  • Staying informed on tenancy rights and new legislation
  • Tracking rent payments
  • Organising maintenance and repairs
  • Health and safety regulations, such as ensuring the up-to-date provision of gas safety checks and landlord electrical safety certificates

For a basic guide on must-knows for letting your property, you can check out the UK Government website, or, if taking over management from your agent, consult the NRLA website.

Pros and Cons of Self-Managing Rental Properties

PROS:

1. Save on management fees

One of the biggest advantages of self-managing a rental property is that you can save money on management fees. All the property management responsibilities listed above typically come with significant costs if you choose to do it through a management service. 

How much do property managers charge (UK)? Typically, full fees for professional management of rental properties sits at around 10-15% (+ VAT) of your monthly rental income. If your tenant pays £800 rent per month, you’ll have to give at least £80 of this to your agent. 

There may also be hidden or ‘add-on’ fees for services like inventory inspections and safety certificates. For instance, an agent could charge you an additional 3% on top of their ordinary management service for their ‘premium’ service including extras like maintenance and organising safety certificates.

By self-managing, you can cut costs and maximise your rental property profit. If your tenant pays £800 per month, you could save over £1,000 pounds a year by self-managing instead of managing through an agent. 

Rent per month£800
Annual rental income£9600
Agency charge12% + VAT
Agency costs£1152 + VAT

For more information on property management costs, visit our blog on management costs for landlords.

2. Save on Maintenance Costs

Letting agents often pay expensive contractors to complete maintenance and repair works but do not always make sure the job is done at the correct price. Moreover, while agents are expected to carry out regular inspections on your property, in reality, they rarely do this. By self-managing your property and organising maintenance yourself instead, you won’t be paying for any services that don’t follow through. However, keep in mind that sorting out maintenance works yourself can be difficult too. It can be hard to find a good network of contractors that you can trust. We recommend using a company like Check-a-Trade to compare reviews and find the most affordable, efficient maintenance workers. 

3. More control over the process

Usually, landlords are legally responsible for any actions or omissions of their letting agent (provided the agent acts within the scope of their duties or ‘ostensible authority’). This means you are liable to pay for the consequences if anything goes wrong. For example, say there was an explosive tenant dispute, and the tenant wanted to sue; you would be in the legal firing aim, not your letting agent. By self-managing, you can avoid relying on a third party and gain greater personal control over the letting process; you know exactly what actions are being taken at all stages of the renting process. Maintaining a direct line of communication with your tenant can eliminate miscommunication over simple matters like easily fixable maintenance issues.

4. Property management experience 

You will gain invaluable experience operating a rental investment. You can use these acquired self-management techniques again in the future to maximise your rental income.

CONS:

1. More time intensive 

You may save money, but this could come at the cost of saving time. The main reason landlords seek the assistance of property management companies is because they don’t want the stress and hassle of basically doing the work of a second job. If you work full-time, self-managing a property simultaneously will likely leave you with little to no downtime. 

2. On call 24/7

If you self-manage your properties, you are expected to be on call 24/7 to deal with any emergencies such as water leaking through the ceiling. If you live a fair distance from the rental property location or work a full-time job, this can be difficult. However, having an agent won’t necessarily always reduce your responsibility. Many agents don’t respond to calls after 6pm, so you may still have to deal with issues outside of regular agent hours.

3. Difficult to juggle multiple responsibilities at once

However, given self-managing landlords’ many responsibilities, you could argue that this promised sense of control is entirely unattainable. In fact, you may be more likely to feel out of control if you cannot manage all tenant and property-related responsibilities at once.

4. Hard to stay up-to-date with legislative changes

You will have to invest significant time learning and staying up-to-date with new laws and regulations affecting tenants and the property market to avoid costly legal issues or tenant disputes. Our property management experts at Flex Living have put together a monthly newsletter, which is a great way to stay informed about changes that could affect you as a self-managing landlord.

Flex Living offers guaranteed rent to Landlords for up to Five Years. With No management fees, no voids, and free maintenance call outs. Why not earn more as you do Less?

a lovely living room of a bookable airbnb property

Is Self-Management of Rental Properties Hard?

The difficulty level of self-managing a property will depend on a few things. For example:

  • The tenants
  • The state of your property
  • The tenant turnover rate
  • Your distance from the property and;
  • The number of properties you own

1. The Tenant(s)

Managing tenants will be one of your key responsibilities when self-managing a property. If you have difficult tenants who do not take care of the property, you’ll likely have to spend more time and money dealing with maintenance and repair issues, tenant disputes and chasing rent arrears. On the other hand, having an easy-going, respectful tenant will eliminate many unnecessary duties as a self-managing landlord. 

For help finding good, easy tenants, read our articles on How to Find Tenants and Tenant Referencing.

b. The Property

If your property is old and has lots of structural issues (such as a poor plumbing system), you will have to deal with maintenance and repair issues more frequently, costing you more time and money than if your property was modern or recently refurbished. Preventative maintenance could save you more long term and limit recurring renovation projects. 

Please read our article on property refurbishment for more information on renovations in London.

white living room with white table and sofa

c. The Tenant Turnover

Consider which area your property is located and what type of property it is. Is it a residential area where families are likely to rent for years, or is it an area that tends to favour new tenants every year? Is it a family home or a 3-bedroom flat rented by students near a University? Asking questions regarding where and what your property is will help you determine a rough tenancy turnover rate.

A higher tenant turnover will intensify your self-managing responsibilities since tenant finding can often be the most laborious part of property management. It may take more time to find a good, long-term tenant, but if they stay for many years, you can get to know them, develop a good communication system and ultimately expend less effort constantly sourcing and dealing with different tenants.

 d. Your Location

Your job as a self-managing landlord will be more difficult the further you live away from your rental property. If the tenants call you with an emergency that requires your immediate attention, but it’s a two-hour train journey to the property, would you be able to miss that important meeting at work to go and sort it out? Essentially, the closer you live to your rental property, the easier your job will be.

e. The Number of Properties You Own

As with any job, the more projects you have, the more difficult it can be to manage them. Ways on how to manage a property portfolio probably wouldn’t suggest managing all these rental properties by yourself!

Fee-Free Property Management with Flex Living

One of the main reasons people choose self-management of their properties is to avoid hefty management fees from property management companies and letting agents. But what if there was a way to manage your rental property (including tenant finding, maintenance and repairs) with zero management fees? Flex Living offers property management services at no extra cost. We also provide professional tenants through our corporate let model, so you can save money and relax knowing that we (and your tenants) are taking care of your home.

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