You may be considering letting your property for a variety of reasons, perhaps you are relocating, finding it difficult to sell your home or simply purchasing a property as an investment.
Whatever your reasoning if you have a residential property to let, it makes economic and practical sense to put the letting in the hands of experts.
We understand that letting your property, especially for the first time, can be a worrying and stressful experience. With this in mind, we strive to deliver the best possible service, never forgetting that your property is your most important asset. We will at all times seek to find you the best tenant, and indeed give you the confidence that your asset will be in professional and caring hands.
There are a number of factors to consider with the letting of your property. Our qualified and experienced team aims to provide you with the best advice and can tailor our services to meet your personal needs.
Finding the right tenant…
The marketing of your property is key to generating interest from potential tenants. We secure most of our rental agreements by calling through our extensive tenant database and prioritising the best prospects.
In addition our marketing initiatives include the erection of ‘to-let boards’ where possible, office window displays, extensive internet coverage including Rightmove. Primelocation, Zoopla, as well as many others.
Any experienced letting agent will identify that there is an element of risk involved with letting a property. We seek to reduce the level of risk for you by conducting detailed referencing of tenants prior to occupation.
Further protection against risk can be provided by Landlord insurance products; just ask a team member for more information.
Our experienced and professional staff work to ensure that the most is made from initial enquiries and provides an opportunity for us to get to meet the tenant at an early stage. Where possible we will endeavour to match the tenant’s requirements with your own to ensure the most suitable relationship between parties can be generated.
The Tenancy Agreement
A tenancy agreement is a legal document signed by the Landlord (or agent) and tenant that identifies the rights and responsibilities of each party in line with the occupation of a property. We will prepare the tenancy agreements for the letting of each property, tailoring it to match your requirements and protect you as a Landlord. Most commonly an Assured Shorthold Tenancy Agreement is used, with a minimum term of six months.
An inventory and condition report details the contents and condition of a property at the start of a tenancy. This is vital for the protection of you, your property and its contents.
As a landlord, it is important to ensure that an up to date and suitably detailed inventory or schedule of condition is provided to the tenants at the commencement of each tenancy. Without a good inventory/schedule of condition, it is difficult to assess and justify any deductions for damage from the tenant’s deposit at the end of the tenancy.
The deposit is paid by the tenant to the Landlord / agent prior to taking occupation in the property. The Housing Act 2004 introduced Tenancy Deposit Protection for all deposits paid from 6th April 2007. We currently utilise the Deposit Protection Service (DPS) in line with this legislation.
Collection of Rent
We operate a computerised accounting system that allows payment dates to be readily identified and paid over to you after clearance and charges, along with a detailed statement.
Property inspections are carried out on a three or six monthly basis during the tenancy to allow the condition of the property to be monitored.
Maintenance issues are the responsibility of the Landlord during the tenancy. We are always on hand to deal with maintenance issues, oversee essential repairs and arrange payment of the completed works. Please advise us if you have any preferred contractors in the event that maintenance is required.
To minimise the vacant period you will have to endure we try to arrange with the existing tenant some suitable times when it would be possible to show new prospects around. This is only possible if the tenant is keeping the property in a good condition and we will try and bulk book any new viewers to ensure minimal disruption. This means that in many instances we are able to move a new tenant into the property within 1 week of it becoming vacant.
At the end of the tenancy a full check out procedure is required to check the contents and condition of the property, with deductions being made from the deposit in the event of damage being caused to the property. Depending upon your requirements We can remarket the property to find another tenant or help to advise upon the sale of the property. Alternatively you may be moving back into the property yourself.
Energy Performance Certificate
An Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) is required for a property to be marketed to let, from 1st October 2008. Heritage have qualified Domestic Energy Assessors to produce these certificates, which will remain valid for ten years.
If the property is mortgaged consent to the letting of your property must be obtained from your lender, to avoid breach of mortgage terms. Otherwise you may have to switch to a buy to let mortgage.
Freeholder/management company’s consent to let
If your property is leasehold you’ll also need to ask any housing association or other body which has regulations applying to the property, e.g. shared ownership.
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 provide information on Landlords Legal Protection and Landlord’s Buildings and Contents insurance if required.
Taxation on Lettings Income
As a Landlord you will be required to pay tax, but the exact amount will be dependent upon if you are classified as a UK resident or not.
Compliance with Safety Regulations
- Annual safety check: Under the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 (as amended) 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 Safe 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 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’ is to arrange such an inspection and certificate.
Furniture and 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 01/03/1990 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 leave operating manuals or other written instructions about high risk items, such as hot surfaces, electric lawnmowers, etc. for the tenant.
Fit smoke Detectors
There is no specific legislation requiring smoke alarms or other fire safety equipment to be fitted in ordinary tenanted properties, but you could be held liable if a fire should cause injury or damage and such equipment was not fitted. You should therefore ensure your property is safe in the event of a fire by fitting at least one smoke detector on each floor in the hall and landing areas (ideally mains-wired and inter-linked) and providing a fire extinguisher and fire blanket in the kitchen. The extinguisher should be serviced every 12 months. Also make sure that upper floor windows are large enough to permit escape in the event of a fire.