Are you thinking of renting out your property?
When it comes to letting your property you want reassurance that your investment is in safe hands. We offer a complete, cost-effective property management service for landlords and as specialists we are effective and efficient, ensuring smooth running tenancies and compliance with the various landlord/tenants laws.
Please refer to the Landlords Fees page for further details of our services
Check out our landlord's quick guide of things you'll need to consider before renting out your property:
Getting the property ready for rental
Now that you have decided to rent out your property you'll want to maximise the letting potential by making sure you address the condition, the quality of the presentation and attention to detail. The most important thing to remember is that you are not going to be the one living in the property, so your personal taste should take second place to what the market demands. Better properties tend to attract better tenants and yield the highest rents.
The first thing a potential tenant sees is the front of the property, so the exterior should be in good, fresh decorative order. Any pathways and driveways are to be clear of weeds, presentable and rubbish free.
Trim hedges, mow the lawn, repair any cracks, holes or blemishes or walls, give the windows a lick of paint and make sure the house number is clearly visible.
If you are letting a garage with the property, this should also be cleared and made ready for use. The garden should also be tidy and presented in an attractive manner, dig up any dead or unsightly plants and if possible add some new ones. Tenants have an obligation under the terms of the contract to maintain any outside land.
Ensure that all available utilities are connected to the property including gas, water and electricity. Details of the suppliers to be provided to your Property Manager.
Where provided, check any LPG/OIL tanks are in working condition and full and that any septic tanks attached to the property are emptied.
Furnishings, Carpets, Curtains & General Interior
You'll find that most tenants prefer plain, neutral colours for decoration and you will also need to take into consideration wear and tear, especially on carpets.
Carpets should be good quality, practical and hard wearing, it may also be appropriate to fit wooden floors in some of the rooms. Whatever you decide, it should be good enough to last.
Bathrooms should have a good quality shower, and Kitchens, ideally, will be well equipped and functional. Again, good quality is important in these areas.
ALL electrical, plumbing, waste, central heating and hot water systems MUST be safe, sound and in good working order
Instruction/operating manuals for appliances and electrical equipment should be left in the property. Details of any maintenance contracts should also be supplied.
Before the commencement of a tenancy the whole property should be professionally cleaned throughout. The tenants will be liable to arrange the same at the end of term.
Other Important Considerations
Do you have a mortgage on the property? - If you have a mortgage on the property that you intend to let then you will need written permission from your mortgage lender. Depending on who your lender is will determine whether they want to include extra clauses within the tenancy agreement.
Is your property held on a Lease? - If you are the leaseholder of the property then you will need to check the terms of the lease and prior to letting obtain any necessary permissions.
Council Tax & Utility Services - Arranging for transfer of the council tax and utility services into the correct tenant name is part of our services. We can assist in taking meter readings for each of the services connected to the property.
Insurance - You should advise your insurance company that you are letting out the property and make sure that you have adequate insurance cover for buildings, content and public liability in place. Failure to notify your insurer may invalidate your policies.
Rent Guarantee and Legal Insurance (Nil Excess) - We have agreed preferential rates with our providers for Managed and Rent Collection tenancies. Further details can be found on the Landlords Charges page.
The Cost of Letting Your Property
While your thoughts maybe leaning towards how much you can achieve by letting your property, you must consider and budget for any costs that may arise, for example:
- Monthly mortgage payments due on the property
- Expenses for bringing the property up to the required standards, physically and in terms of safety
- Solicitors fees
- Letting agent and management fees
- Insurance fees
- Contingency budget for ad hoc maintenance and repairs
Post - If you are renting out a property where you no longer live (e.g: you are moving and want to let the property) then you will need to arrange to have your mail re-directed to your new address.
Income Tax - It you are currently residing in the UK, it is your responsibility to inform Revenue and Customs of any rental that you receive and to pay any taxes due.
If you are a landlord of a UK property and normally live outside the UK. Use HMRC Form NRL1i to apply to get your UK rental income paid without deduction of UK tax.
Legal Requirements & Health and Safety
As a landlord of a property equipped with gas appliances you need to understand and comply with the law relating to gas safety.
- 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 annually by a competent engineer (e.g. a CORGI registered gas installer (Council for Registered Gas Installers).
- All gas appliances and associated pipe work and flues should be maintained to ensure they are safe to use and prevent risk of injury to any person.
- Provide the tenant with a copy of the safety certificate before their tenancy commences or within 28 days of the checks being done.
The Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 1994
The electrical supply and appliances within a property must be safe at all times. Appliances must be checked for defects (e.g. badly fitted plugs or frayed wires etc.). If an item is found to be unsafe then this should be removed from the property prior to offering it for rent. There is no statutory checking procedure but we strongly recommend that all items are regularly PAT tested by a qualified Electrical Engineer and a written record maintained.
Electrical Installation Inspection
The Electrical Safety Council latest Guidance for rented accommodation recommends period inspections/tests by a qualified electrician are carried out at least every 5 years or on a change of tenancy.
The Electrical Safety Council Guide says that where a change of tenancy occurs within a short period (for example not more than 6 months) a full inspection/test may not always be required. However, it is imperative that a landlord's representative carries out a visual electrical safety inspection prior to reletting. This should undertake a manual test of any residual current devices.
The Plugs & Sockets (Safety) Regulations 1994 (Consumer Protection Act 1987)
Any plug, socket or adapter supplied which is intended for domestic use, must comply with the appropriate current regulations.
Building Regulations - Part "P"
Part P of the Building Regulations requires that most fixed electrical installation work must meet Building Regulation requirements. Thus, the work must either be pre-notified to the local authority or be carried out by a registered electrician under one of the Government approved schemes.
Failure to comply with these regulations is a criminal offence and could result in fines of up to £5,000 and/or imprisonment.
The 1991 Building Regulations require that all properties built since June 1992 must be fitted with mains operated interlinked smoke detectors/alarms on each floor. Such regulations regarding older properties do not exist but we strongly recommend that smoke alarms are fitted in all let properties and are regularly checked to ensure they are in full working order.
Carbon Monoxide Alarms
Landlords are required to install carbon monoxide alarms in high risk rooms - such as those where a solid fuel heating system is installed.
The Furniture & Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) (Amendment) Regulations 1993
It is now an offence to install any furniture in let properties that do not comply with these regulations.
The regulations apply to
- Pillows and scatter cushions
- Stretch or loose furniture covers
- Children's furniture
- Garden furniture suitable for use in the dwelling
and any other item with similar type fillings of which must carry the appropriate labels of compliance.
Upholstered furniture must have fire resistant filling material and must pass a cigarette resistance test and permanent covers must pass a match resistant test.
Any furniture added to the property since 1st March 1993 must comply with these requirements whether new or second hand.
The regulations do not apply to:
- Antique furniture made before 1st January 1950
- Bedclothes including duvets & pillowcases and loose covers for mattresses
- Sleeping bags
- Cushion covers
The recommended way to check whether furniture complies is to look for labels attached to the furniture. If there are no labels, you must try and establish when and where the furniture was bought and contact the retailer or manufacturer to check whether the item complies. If you are unable to establish where the furniture came from or its compliance, it must be replaced. It is illegal to let a property with furniture which does not comply with these regulations.
Due to changes to the Approved Code of Practice regarding Legionella Control, it is required that all rental properties must have a Legionella Risk Assessment carried out. The relevant legislation can be viewed at http://www.hse.gov.uk/legionnaires/
The Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (DDA)
In December 2006, amendments to the above act came in to effect giving a disabled person the right to ask a landlord for reasonable adjustments to a property to enable him to enjoy the property and its features as an able-bodied person could. Such modifications are temporary and at the end of the tenancy can be reinstated. Any alterations and changes to the property will be at cost to the landlord.
Housing Health & Safety Rating System (HHSRS)
The Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS) is a new risk assessment tool used to assess potential risks to the health and safety of occupants in residential properties in England and Wales. The new assessment method focuses on the hazards that are most likely to be present in housing. The HHSRS assesses 29 categories of housing hazards, each hazard has a weighting which will help determine whether the property is rated as having Category 1 (serious) or Category 2 (other). Tackling these hazards will make more homes healthier and safer to live in. Landlords are advised to assess their property to determine whether there are serious hazards that may cause a health or safety risk to tenants. They should then carry out improvements to reduce the risks.
The Tenancy Deposit Scheme
The Tenants Deposit Scheme (TDS) government legislation came into effect in April 2007. All deposits taken for an Assured Shorthold Tenancy after that date must be covered by the scheme. The scheme is designed to encourage landlords and tenants to make a clear agreement at the start of the tenancy on the contents and condition of the property. We use the DPS to hold deposits on behalf of our landlords. (www.depositprotection.com)
The DPS provides a free dispute resolution service.
What Is a Assured Shorthold Tenancy?
The Assured Shorthold Tenancy is the default tenancy for most dwellings in England and Wales. It is a form of Assured tenancy with limited security of tenure, and an important class of residential tenancy in England and Wales. It was introduced by the Housing Act 1988.
Assured Shorthold Tenancy agreements are normally arranged for a twelve month period, but can be agreed for alternative periods, e.g. six or eighteen months. This type of tenancy allows the tenant to remain in the property for the initial fixed period. A break clause may also be included with the tenancy.
An Assured Shorthold Tenancy entitles the landlord to a possession order immediately after the initial agreed period. The landlord is therefore able to evict the tenant after the initial fixed term without a legal reason. If this is the case and the landlord does not wish to renew the tenancy then they are obliged to give at least two months notice to end the tenancy.
However, if both the tenant and landlord are happy with the agreement another tenancy can be agreed, for a new fixed period.
An AST is suitable when:
- The tenant is an individual as opposed to a company
- The dwelling is the tenants main/principal home
- The dwelling must be let as separate accommodation
There are a number of important exclusions (e.g tenancies that cannot be assured or assured shorthold), generally known as "Common Law" or "Contractual Tenancies, which include:
- Lettings to companies
- Holiday lettings
- Tenancies granted by a resident landlord (A landlord living in the same property as the tenant)
- Lettings at no rent, low rent or high rent (Over £25,000 per annum)
- Being let with more than two acres of agricultural land or an agricultural tenancy
- Tenancies entered into before 15th January 1989, or a tenancy that was previously a protected tenancy
- Owned by the Crown or a government department
Energy Performance Certificates (EPC)
From October 2008 EPCs will be required whenever a building is built, sold or rented out. The certificate provides 'A' to 'G' ratings for the building, with 'A' being the most energy efficient and 'G' being the least, with the average up to now being 'D'.
The certificate includes recommendations on ways to improve the home's energy efficiency to save money and is valid for 10 years.
The EPC must be made available for viewing by any prospective tenant at the point of viewing or enquiring about the property.
New Section 21 Notice for 2015
There are new rules and regulations surrounding Section 21 Notices which came into force on 01st October 2015.
What documents are required to serve the Section 21 Notice?
In order to be able to serve the new prescribed Section 21 Notice, a landlord must have the following in place and have given them to their tenant:
- A Deposit Protection Certificate (if deposit taken) showing protected within 30 days of receipt of deposit
- Prescribed Information showing served within 30 days of receipt of deposit
- Gas Safety Certificates
- Energy Performance Certificate
- 'How to Rent: the checklist for renting in England' (this must be given to all new tenancies commencing after 01st October 2015) https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/how-to-rent
There are many things to consider prior to letting out your property and the process can become complex and time consuming. As specialists, we understand the letting process and can manage your property giving you peace of mind and relieve you of the commitment of being a full-time landlord.
Please contact us further to discuss your individual requirements for you and your property; we look forward to being of assistance to you.