Before letting a property, there are a number of matters which the owner will need to deal with to ensure that the tenancy runs smoothly and is legally compliant. A summary of information is provided below. If further advice or assistance is needed, please do not hesitate to contact us:
Preparing the Property
Properties that are clean, tidy and in a good state of repair tend to attract a greater number of potential tenants. A good rental home attracts quality tenants often willing to pay better rents and who stay; this is in contrast to a rental property of poor quality the likes of which can suffer from a greater turnover of tenancy occupation.
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. Interior decorations should be in good condition and preferably plain, light and neutral.
The property can be let fully furnished, part furnished or unfurnished. Which of these is appropriate will depend on the type of property and local market conditions. We will offer you advice on whether or not to furnish and to what level. As a minimum you will need to provide decent quality flooring and light fittings. Remember that there will be wear and tear on the property and any items left within the property.
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 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, and 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. how to operate 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.
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 any 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. We can advise on Landlords Legal Protection, Rent Guarantee Cover and Landlords Contents and Buildings Insurance if required.
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 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 Revenue & Customs of rental income received, and to pay any tax due. Where the Landlord is resident outside the UK during a tenancy, they will require an exemption certificate from the Revenue & Customs before they can receive rental balances without deduction of tax. Where we are managing the property we will provide advice and assistance on applying for such exemption.
The Inventory and Condition Report
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 if required arrange for a member of staff to prepare an inventory and schedule of condition, at the cost quoted in our Agency Agreement.
What is an Assured Shorthold Tenancy?
Most tenancies will automatically be Assured Shorthold Tenancies (ASTs), provided the rent is under £25,000 a year and the property is let to private individuals. Tenancies are usually granted for an initial fixed term of either 6 to 12 months. When the fixed term has expired the landlord is able to regain possession of the property provided he gives two months written notice to the tenant. In addition, if the tenant owes at least 2 months or 8 weeks rent on the property he can apply through the court to seek a possession order.
Health and Safety, and other Legal Requirements
The following requirements are the responsibility of the owner (Landlord). Where we are managing the property they are also our responsibility. Therefore where we are managing we will ensure compliance, any costs of which will be the responsibility of the landlord.
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.
Carbon Monoxide: tester to be places near any Gas appliances which included the Gas Boiler.
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 legal requirement for an electrical safety certificate (except in the case of all HMOs) 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.
The Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations 1988 (amended 1989 & 1993) provide that specified items supplied in the course of letting a 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. They do not apply to antique furniture or furniture made before 1950, bedcovers including duvets, loose covers for mattresses, pillowcases, curtains, carpets or sleeping bags. Items which comply will have a suitable permanent label attached. Non-compliant items must be removed before a tenancy commences.
All properties built since June 1992 must have been fitted with mains powered smoke detector alarms from new. Although there is no legislation requiring smoke alarms to be fitted in other ordinary tenanted properties, it is generally considered that 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 fit at least one alarm on each floor (in the hall and landing areas).
Is your property a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO)?
If your property is on 3 or more levels and let to 5 or more tenants comprising 2 or more households (i.e. not all of the same family) it will be subject to mandatory licensing by your local authority. Whether mandatory licensing as above applies or not, if there are 3 or more tenants not all related in any property, it is still likely to be an HMO, and special Management rules apply. Learn more at Gov.UK
The Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS)
The HHSRS provides an analysis of how hazardous a property is through assessment of 29 potential hazards found in housing. Landlords have to maintain their properties to provide a safe and healthy environment. The HHSRS is enforced by local authorities with guidance publications available for more information.
The Tenancy Deposit Scheme
From 6 April 2007, all deposits taken by landlords and letting agents under Assured Shorthold Tenancies (ASTs) in England and Wales must be protected by a tenancy deposit protection scheme. Landlords and letting agents must not take a deposit unless it is dealt with under a tenancy deposit scheme. To avoid any disputes going to court, each scheme will be supported by an alternative dispute resolution service (ADR). Landlords and letting agents will be able to choose between two types of scheme; a single custodial scheme and two insurance-based schemes. Learn more on Gov.UK.
The Disability Discrimination Act 2005
The DDA 2005 addresses the limitations of current legislation by extending disabled people’s rights in respect of premises that are let or to be let, and commonhold premises. Landlords and managers of let premises and premises that are to let will be required to make reasonable adjustments for disabled people. Under the new duties, provided certain conditions are met (for example, that a request has been made), landlords and managers of premises which are to let, or of premises which have already been let, must make reasonable adjustments, and a failure to do so will be unlawful unless it can be justified under the Act. Landlords will only have to make reasonable adjustments, and they will not have to remove or alter physical features of the premises. Learn more on Gov.UK
Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs)
From the 1st October 2008, landlords need to ensure that they make an EPC available to prospective tenants. An EPC is only required for a property which is self-contained, and is valid for 10 years, and must be made available to the tenant free of charge. An EPC isn’t required when a tenant rents a room and shares facilities.
EPC regulation update effective from 6th April 2012
Commissioning an EPC before marketing
A number of changes will be made to regulation 5A of the EPB Regulations. In general, the onus remains on the ‘relevant person’ (i.e. the seller or landlord) to commission an EPC before marketing. The main changes are as follows:
- the duty to commission an EPC before marketing will be extended to the sale and rent of residential and non-residential buildings;
- the current 28 day period within which an EPC is to be secured using ‘reasonable efforts’ will be reduced to 7 days;
- if after that 7 day period the EPC has not been secured the relevant person will have a further 21 days in which to do so.
Power to Require the Production of Documents
Trading Standards Officers (TSOs) currently have the power to require the ’relevant person’ (i.e. the seller or landlord) to produce copies of the EPC for inspection and to take copies if necessary. The power to require the production of documents will be extended to include persons acting on behalf of the seller or landlord – e.g. estate agents and letting agents. This means, for example, that TSOs will be authorised to require estate agents to produce evidence showing that an EPC has been commissioned where they are marketing a building without one.
Clarifying when an EPC is required
This technical amendment to Regulation 5 is intended to remove the erroneous belief that the provision of the EPC can be delayed until shortly before the parties enter into a contract for sale or rent. This will be achieved by deleting the words “before entering into a contract to sell or rent the building or, if sooner” in Regulation 5(2)(b) of the EPB Regulations
A number of consequential changes will be made to enable TSOs to enforce the new duties.
EPC Information in Written Particulars
Currently, for residential sales only, the relevant person or his agent is under a duty to either attach the EPC to written particulars or include the asset rating on those particulars. The amendments will require the EPC to be attached to written particulars in relation to buildings sold or rented out. The option to include the asset rating will no longer apply. The existing definition of ‘written particulars’ will be expanded to ensure that particulars produced for rented out buildings and commercial properties are captured by the new requirements. As an exception to this requirement, provision is made to allow the person subject to the duty to provide the written particulars to omit the address of the building from a copy of the EPC where the address has been omitted from those particulars. A further amendment to the Regulations which will also come into force on the 6th April will require that the omission of the address from the copy of the first page of the EPC is carried out by the keeper of the register. The further amendment to the Regulations will restrict this exception to properties which are non-residential.
Statutory lodgement of air conditioning inspection reports
The requirement to lodge air conditioning inspection reports on the central Non Domestic EPC Register will become a statutory requirement, replacing the current voluntary approach.
The amended Regulations will come into force on 6 April 2012. A copy of the amendments and the Explanatory Memoranda can be downloaded at:
The landlord holds responsibility as the ‘Relevant Person’ they therefore carry responsibility to ensure compliance with the EPC regulations, however they may if they choose engage an agent to act on their behalf in procuring the EPC. Should the landlord, as the ‘Relevant Person’ not produce an EPC for a marketed property within the time limits set out in the regulations i.e. ideally within 7 days but certainly by 28 days from the commencement of marketing the landlord will be liable to a fine, currently at £200.
We hope that you will find the above information useful. If there are any aspects of which you are unsure, please ask us. We look forward to being of assistance to you in the letting and management of your property.
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