Full Landlord Guide
We have compiled the following guide to assist you with this process and we are here to provide you with as much or as little practical assistance as you need in order to ensure that your property is presented at its best in a competitive rental market.
If you have a mortgage, you will be required to obtain your mortgagee's written consent prior to letting the property. They may stipulate additional clauses to be added to the tenancy agreement and we will need to be informed of these.
If you are a leaseholder, you will be required to check the terms of your lease, and obtain the necessary written consent before letting. We will need to be informed of any restrictions in the Head Lease to ensure that additional clauses are added to the tenancy agreement as required.
Energy Performance Certificate (EPC)
Since October 1st 2008, you must have an EPC carried out before you can advertise a property to let. Once the EPC is prepared, it will be valid for ten years. The purpose of this is to provide prospective tenants with information on the building's energy efficiency.
*NB. If you have a property that is let currently and the tenancy began before October 1st 2008, you only need to get an EPC when the property is re-let.
We will be more than happy to arrange for an EPC to be carried out on your behalf and details of the cost of this will be agreed with you at the time of our instruction to act on your behalf.
You must be suitably covered for letting your property under both your buildings and contents insurance. Failure to inform your insurers that the property is let may invalidate your policies. We can provide information on Landlord's Legal Protection, and Landlord's Contents Insurance if required.
Legal Protection and Rent Guarantee
In these uncertain economic times we recommend that you consider cover for Legal Protection and Rent Guarantee.
Income Tax and Overseas Landlords
When a landlord is resident in the UK, it is entirely their responsibility to inform the Inland Revenue of rental income received and to pay any tax due. However, where a landlord is resident outside the UK we are obliged to retain and forward to the Inland Revenue on a quarterly basis, an amount equal to the basic rate of income tax from rental received, unless an exemption certificate is held.
An application form for exemption is available from us and further information may be obtained from the Inland Revenue. It is not complicated and is preferable to you having to prove legitimate deductions from your rental income in retrospect.
Important Safety Regulations
The following safety requirements are the responsibility of the owner (the Landlord), and where we manage the property, they are also ours as Agents. Therefore to protect all interests, we must insist that our Landlords fully comply with the appropriate regulations which are detailed as follows.
Gas Appliances & Equipment - Gas Safe Register; Gas Safety Regulations 1998
Under the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998, all gas appliances in tenanted premises must be checked for safety at intervals of not more than 12 months, by a GAS SAFE registered gas engineer, and a safety certificate issued. Records must be kept of the dates of inspections, of defects identified, and of any remedial action taken. Any appliances must also be accompanied by written instructions in English.
Electrical Appliances & Equipment - Landlords Guide to Electrical Safety; The Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 1994
Electrical safety causes significant concern for Agents and Landlords because the regulations regarding electricity are not as well defined as those relating to gas and other fuels. Despite the ambiguity of the guidelines, the importance of electrical safety cannot be underestimated. Under the following legislation: Consumer Protection Act 1987, Housing Act 1985, General Product (Safety) Regulations 1994, Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 1994 and the Plugs and Sockets etc. (Safety) Regulations 1994, all electrical installations and equipment in Tenanted premises must be deemed to be safe.
For us to let or manage a property, we will require certification to be carried out by a qualified electrician. In addition, all portable electrical appliances left in a rented property must be tested annually. All electrical appliances must be accompanied by written instructions in English.
Furniture & Furnishings - Landlords Guide to Fire & Furnishings Safety
The Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations 1988 (as amended 1993) dictate that specified items supplied in the course of Letting a property must meet minimum fire resistant standards. These regulations apply to all upholstered furniture: i.e. sofas, armchairs, mattresses, divans, pillows, and non-original covers for furniture. They do not apply to bedding, curtains, carpets, antique furniture or furniture made before 1950. Therefore all relevant items as above must be checked for compliance, and non-compliant items removed from the premises. In practice, most (but not all) items purchased from a reputable supplier after 1st March 1990 are likely to comply.
General Product Safety - General Product Safety Regulations
The General Product Safety Regulations 2005 specify that any product supplied in the course of a commercial activity must be safe. In the case of Letting, this would include both the structure of the building and its contents. Recommended action is to check for obvious danger signs - leaning walls, broken glass, sharp edges etc.
Preparing the Property for Letting
It is essential that a Tenant should feel comfortable in their rented home and also that they are receiving value for money. Our commitment to the provision of an exceptional standard of service delivery for our clients includes our tenant applicants too, and we are pleased to recommend properties to them which conform to at least minimum standards. In our experience quality properties attract quality tenants. We cannot stress enough how important it is for a property to be prepared for the rental market and presented to a good to exceptional standard.
Electrical, gas, plumbing, waste, central heating and hot water systems must be safe, sound and in good working order. Repairs and maintenance fall to the Landlord under the Landlord & Tenant Act. We can guide you through your own and your tenant's responsibilities.
Appliances such as washing machine, fridge freezer, cooker, dishwasher etc. should be in good, clean usable condition. Repairs and maintenance are at the landlord's expense unless misuse can be established. If appliances are supplied for a tenancy, a landlord is obliged to repair / replace for the duration of the tenancy and to ensure that the appliance is safe to use.
Interior decorations should be in good clean condition; preferably plain, light and neutral.
Unfurnished: Your property is an expensive investment and it is important that the fabric of the building is kept in optimum condition for as long as possible. An unfurnished property that is well presented and dressed with light fittings, window dressings, bathroom fittings (toilet roll holders/towel rails/mirror), neutral carpets/flooring and an oven/hob will appeal to the widest market and will rent much more swiftly compared to a property without.
If you choose to let a property that is devoid of all fixtures and fittings; your property will still rent. However, it will not appeal to the widest market, as few Tenants have the extra funds available once they have paid their deposit, application fees and rent in advance to then consider the added expense of buying curtains and lamp shades for a property they may only live in for 6-12 months.
If you choose to rely on Tenants putting in their own fixtures and fittings, you must also consider the standard of the Tenant's workmanship and accept that if they have paid for the fixtures and fittings, they will probably want to remove them at the end of the Tenancy. It is clear to see how after only a relatively short time, a property can begin to look very tired if there is a regular cycle of Tenants putting up and taking down their own curtain poles and blinds etc... and ultimately the fabric of the building may be diminished.
Furnished: If you would like let your property furnished, it is essential that you consider why you are doing so, as furnished properties do not necessarily command a premium in rent, and can be more costly to maintain with a higher risk to you. An inventory, by virtue of the time it takes to produce, may also prove to be more costly. You may even inadvertently deter some tenants from viewing your property at all if they have their own furniture. Generally speaking, furnished properties appeal to certain groups of tenants such as students, commuters looking for a base during the week or company lets. Outside of these target groups, furnished properties become less in demand as most tenants have some or all of their own furniture and furnishings and like the property to feel like 'theirs' while they live in it.
It is important that an Inventory and Schedule of Condition be prepared in order to avoid misunderstanding at the end of a tenancy. Without such safeguards, it will be impossible for the landlord to prove any loss, damage, or significant deterioration of the property or contents.
For Fully Managed properties, the Tenant's deposit is registered with The Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS) www.thedisputeservice.co.uk This service can also be offered at an additional cost to landlords using our Let Only service if they are using an Inventory and Schedule of Conditions prepared by us.
Gardens should be left neat, tidy and rubbish-free; with any lawns cut, edges trimmed and weeds cleared. Tenants are required to maintain the gardens to a reasonable standard; however few tenants are experienced gardeners and if you value your garden or if it is particularly large, you may wish us to arrange maintenance visits by our regular gardener.
We cannot emphasise enough that your property must be thoroughly cleaned prior to marketing. It is very difficult to present a property to prospective Tenants on viewings if it is not clean and you could lose valuable income if it takes longer to rent as a result of overlooking this simple but essential issue. This will also set the precedent for future Tenancies as it is the Tenant's responsibility to leave the property in a similar condition to how they accepted it. Where they fail to do so, cleaning will be arranged at their expense.
Personal items, ornaments etc
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.
It is not the Tenant's responsibility to forward mail therefore we recommend that you use the Post Office redirection service. Application forms are available at their counters, and the cost is minimal.
Information for the Tenant
We ask our Landlords to complete a Property Owners Form to assist us with acquiring key information about the property to be let. We then use some of this information within a comprehensive Tenant Information Pack which we compile at no extra cost to the Landlord or Tenant to provide information about when refuse is collected, names and contact details of utility providers and general advice on how to look after the property during the course of their Tenancy. Please remember that you will need to provide written instructions manuals for operating the central heating / hot water system, appliances and an intruder alarm if applicable. (Provide photocopies only as originals may get soiled, damaged or lost by Tenants)
You should provide one set of keys for each Tenant. Where we are managing the property, we will arrange to have duplicates cut as required.