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Landlord Guide

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. For brief details of a subject click on a blue link below, or scroll down the page. If you require further advice or assistance with any matter, please do not hesitate to contact us:

 

Mortgage

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.

Leaseholds

If you are a leaseholder, you should check the terms of your lease, and obtain the necessary written consent before letting.

Insurance

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. 

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

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 and 'substantially' unfurnished, there is usually no charge for one month.  Please refer to local council for further information.

The inventory

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. These reports are automatically compiled for our managed properties.  In order to provide a complete service to our Landlord's who seek a Letting Only service, we will if requested, arrange to prepare an inventory and schedule of condition, at a cost to be quoted.

Income tax

When the landlord is resident in the UK, it is entirely his/her responsibility to inform the Inland Revenue of rental income received, and to pay any tax due. However, where the landlord is resident outside 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.



Important safety and other regulations

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 will pursue 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 CORGI registered gas installer). Maintenance: There is a duty to ensure that all gas appliances, flues and associated pipework are maintained in a safe condition at all times. 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 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 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 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., and also to provide operating manuals or other written instructions about high risk items, such as hot surfaces, electric lawnmowers, etc. to 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 home, and that they are receiving value for their money. 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.

General condition

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. When buildings are to be rented out, the landlord is responsible for ensuring a valid Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) is made available to all prospective tenants. The EPC and recommendation report must be made available free of charge by a landlord to a prospective tenant at the earliest opportunity and no later than: when any written information about the building is provided in response to a request for information received from the prospective tenant; or when a viewing is conducted; or if neither of those occur, before entering into a contract to let. An Energy Performance Certificate does not have to be made available if: the landlord believes that the prospective tenant is unlikely to have sufficient funds to purchase or rent the property or is not genuinely interested in renting that type of property; or the landlord is unlikely to be prepared to rent out the property to the prospective tenant (although this does not authorize unlawful discrimination) Homes have required an EPC on rented properties from 1 October 2008. An EPC for rented property is valid for ten years. The only person who is able to produce an Energy Performance Certificate is an accredited energy assessor. baseLETS will be happy to arrange inspections on behalf of our landlords - pricing available upon request.

Appliances

Similarly, appliances such as washing machine, fridge freezer, cooker, dishwasher etc. should be in usable condition. Repairs and maintenance are at the landlord's expense unless misuse can be established.

Decorations

Interior decorations should be in good condition, and preferably plain, light and neutral.

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.

Gardens

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.

Cleaning

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 similar condition. Where they fail to do so, cleaning should be arranged at their expense.

Mail forwarding

We recommend that you make use of the Post Office redirection service. Application forms are available at their counters, and the cost is minimal. This provides peace of mind that you are receiving your post until such time your new address has been recognised by the senders.

Information for the tenant

It is helpful if you leave information for the tenant on operating the central heating and hot water system, appliances and alarm system, and the day refuse is collected etc.

Keys

You should provide one set of keys for each tenant. Where we are Managing we will arrange to have duplicates cut as required.