Guide for Landlords
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 also that he/she complies with the law. However, these generally fall into three distinct area, as highlighted below. For 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.
If you are a leaseholder, you should check the terms of your lease, and obtain the necessary written consent before letting.
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.
As an appointed representative of Maras Group Insurance Services we are able to offer a range of competitively priced insurance products designed specially for Landlords, providing extra security and peace of mind which include Landlords Legal Protection, Rent Guarantee Cover and Landlords Contents and Buildings Insurance. Leaflets are enclosed for your information..
Energy Performance Certificate (EPC)
It is a legal requirement for all properties available for rental to have an energy performance certificate. An energy assessor will spend approximately 15 minutes checking the property. The will then provide a rating for the property and recommendations to improve the energy efficiency. There is no obligation to act on these recommendations. Our company charges £60.00 plus VAT to organise this but you are entitled to commission your own one and provide a certificate to us before marketing.
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 British Telecom, Sky and other suppliers of digital TV will require instructions directly from both the Landlord and the Tenant.
When resident in the UK, it is entirely the Landlords responsibility to inform the Inland Revenue of rental income received, and to pay any tax due. Where the Landlord is resident outside the UK during a tenancy, under rules effective from 6 April 1996, unless an exemption certificate is held, we as Landlord's Agent 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.
It is most important that an inventory of contents and schedule of condition be prepared, in order to avoid 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. In order to provide a complete Service, we will prepare an inventory £50.00 plus VAT or a photographic inventory and schedule of condition for £100.00 plus VAT. This service includes the use of digital photography, with images of the property and contents stored on our property management files. We also provide updates of the inventory with our management service for each new tenancy and also with our letting only service where the owner informs us of any amendments required following their check-out with the tenants at the property.
Safety Regulations - Important!
The following requirements are the responsibility of the owner (Landlord). Where you have signed our Full Management Agency Agreement, they are also our responsibility. Therefore where we are managing your property we will need to ensure compliance.
Health and Safety – Gas Annual safety check
Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 provide that 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 GAS SAFE registered gas engineer
- Maintenance - There is a duty to ensure that all gas appliances, flues and associated pipe work are maintained in a safe condition at all times
- Records - For a period of not less than two years, appliance and flue inspections must be recorded, together with details of any defects and remedial action taken
- Safety Certificate - A copy of the safety certificate issued by the GAS SAFE registered 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
Health and Safety - Electrical
Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 1994 and The Plugs and Sockets (Safety) Regulations 1994 provide that electrical appliances, consumer units, electrical plugs, sockets and appliances provided in tenanted premises must be safe. A visual safety check and assessment is carried out by our inventory clerk when preparing the inventory and schedule of condition and recommendations may be made during this check to ensure compliance with the above regulations.
However, we strongly recommend that where a property is more than five years old that a Fixed Wiring Test and Portable Appliance test is carried out prior to letting the property by a suitably qualified electrician.
Consumer Protection - Fire
The Furniture and Furnishings (Fire Safety) Regulations 1988 (amended 1989 & 1993) provide that specified items supplied in the course of letting property must meet minimum fire resistance standards.
The regulations apply to all upholstered furniture, 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.
However, the regulations do not apply to bedcovers including duvets, loose covers for mattresses, pillow cases, curtains, carpets, sleeping bags or to antique furniture (furniture made before 1950).
Items of furniture or furnishing purchased since 1st March 1990 will automatically comply with regulations providing they have a suitable permanent label attached or the receipt is kept.
All Non-compliant items must be removed before a tenancy commences.
All properties built since June 1992 must have been fitted with mains powered smoke detection alarms.
Although there is no legislation requiring smoke alarms to be fitted in other ordinary tenanted properties, it is generally considered 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.
We therefore strongly recommend that the Landlord fits at least one smoke detector alarm in the hall and landing areas of each floor of the property.
Preparing the Property for Letting
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. It is important that the Tenants should feel comfortable in their temporary home, and that they are receiving value for their money. It follows therefore that a well maintained property in a good decorative order will go towards this, whilst also achieving a higher rental figure. Tenants are also more inclined to 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 Landlords 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. We would suggest the following for an unfurnished property:
flooring such as carpet / laminate flooring in bedrooms and receptions rooms, lino or ceramic floor tiles in bathrooms / kitchens, curtains, blinds or voile panels on each window with suitable fittings, cooker, hob, cooker hood in the kitchen although for a 1 or 2 bedroom property especially flats or apartments we would recommend you also provide a fridge/freezer and washing machine or washer / dryer.
To avoid Tenants requesting permission to drill holes into your walls, other items that should be provided include bathroom fittings such as fixed wall mirror, toilet roll holder, towel rail, bathroom cabinet, shelving in airing cupboards / storage cupboards, coat hooks in entrance halls.
As Tenants often request to put up their own pictures, we also advise that a few picture hooks are fitted throughout the property. This will also help to avoid unsightly nails and raw plugs appearing during the course of the tenancy.
Personal items, ornaments etc.
All cupboards and shelf space should be left clear for the Tenant's own use.
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.
Please note. For health and safety reasons, we do not inspect a loft space unless it is has been converted into accommodation with access via a fixed staircase.
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. 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 we will arrange to have duplicates cut as required.