Before a property can be let, there are several matters which the owner will need to deal with to ensure that the tenancy runs smoothly, and that he/she complies with the law. Please see below for details. If you require further advice or assistance with any matter, please do not hesitate to contact us:
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 of.
If you are a leaseholder, you should check the terms of your lease, and obtain the necessary written consent before letting your property.
If you are a tenant yourself, you will require your landlord's consent.
You should ensure that you are suitably 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, and Landlord's Contents insurance if required.
Bills and Regular Outgoings
We recommend that you arrange for regular outgoings e.g. mortgage, 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 is the responsibility of the occupier. You should inform your local collection office that you are leaving the property. During vacant periods, the charge reverts to the owner. When unoccupied but furnished, the charge is 50% of the normal rate. When unoccupied and 'substantially' unfurnished, there is no charge for the first six months, and thereafter a charge of 50% of the normal rate.
It is most important that an inventory of contents and schedule of condition is prepared, to avoid any misunderstanding or dispute 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. To provide a complete service to the landlord, we will if requested arrange for a member of staff to prepare an inventory and schedule of condition, at a cost to be quoted.
When the 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 the landlord is resident outside of the UK during a tenancy, under new rules effective from 6 April 1996, unless an exemption certificate is held, we as landlord's agents 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, less certain expenses. An application form for exemption from such deductions is available from this Agency, and further information may be obtained from the Inland Revenue.
The following safety requirements are the responsibility of the owner (the landlord), and where we are to manage the property, they are also ours as agents. Therefore, to protect all interests we ensure full compliance with the appropriate regulations, at the owner's expense.
Gas Appliances & Equipment
Annual safety check: - 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 least every 12 months by a competent engineer (e.g., a GAS SAFETY registered gas installer).
Maintenance: There is a duty to ensure that all gas appliances, flues, and associated pipework are always maintained in a safe condition
Records: Full records must be kept for at least 2 years of the inspections of each appliance and flue, of any defects found and of any remedial action taken.
Copies to tenants: A copy of the safety certificate issued by the engineer must be given to each new tenant before their tenancy commences, or to each existing tenant within 28 days of the check being carried out.
Electrical Appliances & Equipment
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'. They include the Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 1994, the Plugs and Sockets Regulations 1994, the 2005 Building Regulation - 'Part P, and British Standard BS1363 relating to plugs and sockets. Although with tenanted property there is currently no specific legal requirement for a qualified electrician to carry out an inspection and issue a safety certificate (as exists in the case of gas appliances), it is now widely accepted in the letting industry that the only safe way to ensure safety, and to avoid the risk of being accused of neglecting your 'duty of care', or even of manslaughter is to arrange such an inspection and certificate.
Furniture & Furnishings
The Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations 1988 (amended 1989, 1993 & 1996) provide that specified items supplied in the course of letting a property must meet minimum fire resistant standards. The regulations apply to all upholstered furniture, and beds, headboards and mattresses, sofa-beds, futons and other convertibles, nursery furniture, garden furniture suitable for use in a dwelling, scatter cushions, pillows, and non- original covers for furniture. They do not apply to antique furniture or furniture made before 1950, bed clothes including duvets, loose covers for mattresses, pillowcases, curtains, carpets or sleeping bags. 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 which comply must have a suitable permanent label attached. Items purchased since 1.3.90 from a reputable supplier are also likely to comply.
General Product Safety
The General Product Safety Regulations 1994 specify that any product supplied during 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., and to leave operating manuals or other written instructions about high-risk items, such as hot surfaces, electric lawnmowers, etc. for the tenant.
Preparing the Property for Letting
We have found from experience that a good relationship with tenants is the key to a smooth- running tenancy. As Property Managers the relationship part is our job, but it is important that the tenants should feel comfortable in their temporary home, and that they are receiving value for their money. This is your job. Our policy of offering a service of quality and care therefore extends to our tenant applicants too, and we are pleased to recommend properties to rent which conform to certain minimum standards. Quality properties attract quality tenants.
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.
Similarly, appliances such as washing machines, fridge freezers, cookers, dishwashers etc. should be in usable condition. 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.
It is recommended that you leave only minimum furnishings, and these should be of reasonable quality. It is preferable that items to be left are in the property during viewings. If you are letting unfurnished, we recommend that the property contains carpets, curtains, a cooker and a fridge freezer.
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 maintenance visits by our regular gardener.
At the commencement of a tenancy the property must be in a thoroughly clean condition, and at the end of each tenancy it is the tenant's responsibility to leave the property in a similar condition. Where they fail to do so, cleaning should be arranged at their expense.
We recommend that you make use of the Post Office redirection service. Application forms are available at their counters, and the cost is minimal. It is not the tenant's responsibility to forward mail.
Information for The Tenant
It is helpful if you leave information for the tenant 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 are managing, we will arrange to have duplicates cut as required.