Preparing the Property
We have found that a good relationship with tenants is the key to a smooth running tenancy. As property managers this relationship is our job, but it is important that the tenants should feel comfortable in their home and that they are receiving value for their money. A well presented and maintained property in a good decorative order will achieve a higher rent and tenants will treat such a property with greater respect.
Electrical, gas plumbing, waste, central heating and hot water systems must be safe, sound and in good working order. Repairs and maintenance are at the landlord’s expense unless misuse can be established. Interior decorations should be in good condition and preferably plain, light and neutral.
Your property can be let fully furnished, part furnished or unfurnished. We will be pleased to give you advice on whether to furnish or not and to what level. As a minimum you will need to provide decent quality carpets, curtains and light fittings. Remember that there will be wear and tear on the property and any items provided.
Personal possessions, ornaments, pictures, books etc. should be removed from the premises, especially those of real or sentimental value. Some items may be boxed, sealed and stored in the loft at the owner's risk. All cupboards and shelf space should be left clear for the tenant's own use.
Gardens should be left neat, tidy and rubbish free, with any lawns cut. Tenants are required to maintain the gardens to a reasonable standard, provided they are left the necessary tools. However, few tenants are experienced gardeners, and if you value your garden, or if it is particularly large, you may wish us to arrange visits by our regular gardener.
At the commencement of the tenancy the property must be in a thoroughly clean condition, and at the end of each tenancy it is the Tenants' responsibility to leave the property in a similar condition. Where they fail to do so, cleaning will be arranged at their expense.
Information for the Tenant
It is helpful if you leave information for the Tenant, e.g. on operating the central heating and hot water system, washing machine and alarm system, and the day refuse is collected etc.
You should provide one set of keys for each tenant. Where we will be managing the property we will arrange to have duplicates cut as required.
If your property is mortgaged, you should obtain your mortgagee's written consent to the letting. They may require additional clauses in the tenancy agreement of which you must inform us.
If you are a leaseholder, you should check the terms of your lease, and obtain any necessary written consent before letting.
You should ensure that you are covered for letting under both your buildings and contents insurance. Failure to inform your insurers may invalidate your policies. We can advise on landlord’s legal protection, rent guarantee cover and landlord’s contents and buildings insurance if required.
Bills and Regular Outgoings
We recommend that you arrange for regular outgoings e.g. service charges, maintenance contracts etc. to be paid by standing order or direct debit. However where we are managing the property by prior written agreement we may make payment of certain bills on your behalf, provided such bills are received in your name at our office, and that sufficient funds are held to your credit.
Council Tax and Utility Accounts
We will arrange for the transfer of council Tax and utility accounts to the tenant. Meter readings will be taken, allowing your closing gas and electricity accounts to be drawn up. All these matters we will handle for you, however BT and other telecoms providers will require instructions directly from both the landlord and the tenant.
When resident in the UK it is entirely the landlord’s responsibility to inform HMRC of rental income received and to pay any tax due. Where the landlord is resident outside the UK during a tenancy they will require an exemption certificate from HMRC before they can receive rental balances without deduction of tax. Where we are managing the property we will provide advice and assistance on applying for such an exemption.
It is most important that an inventory of contents and schedule of condition be prepared, in order to avoid misunderstanding or disputes at the end of a tenancy. We will arrange for a member of staff to prepare an inventory and schedule of condition at the cost quoted in our agency agreement.
What is an Assured Shorthold Tenancy?
Most tenancies will automatically be Assured Shorthold Tenancies (ASTs), provided the rent is under £25,000 a year and the property is let to private individuals. Tenancies are usually granted for an initial fixed term of either 6 to 12 months.
Health and Safety, and other Legal Requirements
The following requirements are the responsibility of the landlord. Where we are managing the property they are also our responsibility. Therefore where we are managing we will ensure compliance, any costs of which will be the responsibility of the landlord.
Under the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 all gas appliances and flues in rented accommodation must be checked for safety within 12 months of being installed, and thereafter at every 12 months by a competent engineer e.g. a CORGI registered gas installer. A copy of the safety certificate issued by the engineer must be given to each new tenant before their tenancy commences.
There are several regulations relating to electrical installations, equipment and appliance safety and these affect landlords and their agents in that they are supplying in the course of business. To avoid the risk of being accused of neglecting your 'duty of care’ it is recommended that inspections are undertaken and certificates are obtained.
The Furniture and Furnishings Regulations 1988 provide that specified items supplied in the course of letting property must meet minimum fire resistance standards. Items which comply will have a suitable permanent label attached. Non-compliant items must be removed before a tenancy commences.
All properties built since June 1992 must have been fitted with mains powered smoke detector alarms from new and it is generally considered that the common law 'duty of care' means that landlords and their agents could be liable should a fire cause injury or damage in a tenanted property where smoke alarms are not fitted. The latest regulations require landlords to fit smoke alarms on every floor of a property and to install carbon monoxide detectors where there is a solid fuel appliance in use.
Is your property a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO)?
If your property is on 3 or more levels and let to 5 or more tenants comprising 2 or more households it will be subject to mandatory licensing by your local authority. Whether mandatory licensing as above applies or not, if there are 3 or more tenants not all related in any property, it is still likely to be an HMO, and special management rules apply. Learn more here: http://www.propertylicence.gov.uk
The Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS)
The HHSRS provides an analysis of how hazardous a property is through assessment of 29 potential hazards found in housing. Landlords have to maintain their properties to provide a safe and healthy environment. The HHSRS is enforced by local authorities. For further information visit http://www.communities.gov.uk/hhsrs
The Tenancy Deposit Scheme
From 6 April 2007, all deposits taken by landlords and letting agents under Assured Shorthold Tenancies (ASTs) in England and Wales must be protected by a tenancy deposit protection scheme. Landlords and letting agents must not take a deposit unless it is dealt with under a tenancy deposit scheme. http://www.direct.gov.uk/en/TenancyDeposit/index.htm.
The Disability Discrimination Act 2005
The DDA 2005 addresses the limitations of current legislation by extending disabled peoples’ rights in respect of premises that are let or to be let, and commonhold premises. Landlords and managers of let premises and premises that are to let will be required to make reasonable adjustments for disabled people. Learn more here: http://www.dwp.gov.uk/aboutus/dda_factsheet4-premises.pdf
We are able to suggest a variety of insurance policies for both landlords and tenants, including buildings insurance, contents insurance and legal expenses.
This policy provides total peace of mind for landlords. Cover includes the rent you are expecting from your property until vacant possession is obtained for up to 12 months excluding the first month's lost rent. Cover includes 50% of the rent for up to 3 month's after possession is obtained whilst a new tenant is found. All related legal expenses are included.
We hope that you will find the above information useful. If there are any aspects of which you are unsure, please ask us. We look forward to being of assistance to you in the letting and management of your property.