FAQs – Landlords

I HAVE A PROPERTY TO LET, DO I NEED PERMISSION?

Are you thinking about becoming a landlord, if so you will need to ensure that the property you intend to let (if it is mortgaged) is on a Buy to Let mortgage; that you have the consent of your mortgage lender.  If this is not the case you will need to obtain permission from your mortgage provider and/or consent from the freeholder if the property is leasehold, when considering to let a property.  A mortgage lender or freeholder might impose certain conditions before giving you their permission to rent out your property.  You should always comply with the terms & conditions of your mortgage or lease when looking to let a property.  The consequences can be serious and if a lender finds out that you have failed to obtain consent they could demand that you repay the mortgage in full or it’ll repossess the property.

HOW DO I KNOW IF A TENANT IS SUITABLE FOR MY PROPERTY TO LET?

Letting a property, house, flat or studio is a great long term investment however, it can prove challenging when looking to source a suitable tenant, ideally one which is long-term.  There are several things to consider and look out for as part of the process. As your lettings agent we will advise on the achievable monthly rental value and also on how to maximise on this through possible home improvements.

We will advertise the property online, making sure your property is made available to as many potential tenants as possible, whilst giving you the best possibility of renting your property as quickly as possible.  Time is, after all money.

We strive to keep all Landlords informed on the prospective tenants, respond to all enquiries, arrange all viewings and provide feedback.  We will also complete references from previous landlords, credit checks to ensure suitability to rent and affordability.  You, will of course have the final decision on which tenant to offer your property to and will also be invited to meet the tenant personally if this is your preference.  Lastly, we will manage all paperwork, issue all relevant documentation to the tenant, take care of the registration of the deposit and see that your tenant is checked into the property.

WHAT ARE THE SAFETY REGULATIONS FOR A LANDLORD WITH A PROPERTY TO LET?

As a landlord you must meet certain responsibilities and legal obligations to your tenant. The penalties for failing to do so are severe and could result in hefty fines. As your letting agent, it will be our duty to advise you of your obligations, the implications of the safety regulations and to assist you in ensuring you are fully compliant.

You must:

1. Ensure all gas and electrical equipment is safely installed and maintained

To ensure the safety of your tenants’ safety, all gas appliances such as boilers, hobs, ovens, chimneys and flues must be inspected yearly by an engineer who is registered with and qualified by Gas Safe (formerly CORGI).

Once the inspection has been carried out you will be given a Landlord Safety record as will the Tenant with details of all checks that were carried out.  By law a copy of the Gas Safety Record should be given to your tenants with 28 days of the gas safety check and in the case of new tenants, you will need to provide this at the start of their tenancy.

It’s also the landlord’s legal obligation to service any gas appliances with the frequency required by the manufacturer – you’ll find this detailed in the product manual.  Servicing of your boiler and gas fire applainces is generally reccomended on an anual basis.

Since 1st October 2012 Landlords are required to have at least one smoke alarm installed on every storey of their properties and a carbon monoxide alarm in any room containing a solid fuel burning appliance (eg a coal fire, wood burning stove). After that, the landlord must make sure the alarms are in working order at the start of each new tenancy.  If this legislation is not adhered to a Landlord could be fined up tp £5,000 by local authorities.

2. Provide an Energy Performance Certificate for the property to let

An EICR inspection is required on all properties to let.  Landlords must obtain a report  (usually an Electrical Installation Condition Report or EICR) from the person conducting the inspection and test which explains its outcomes and any investigative or remedial work required.  This report must be completed every 5 years by a competent person such as an NICEIC qualified electrician.

3. Comply with safety regulations on furniture and furnishings in a Rental Property

From the 1st January 1997 all furniture in a rental property must comply with the 1993 amendments to the Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations 1988. These safety regulations extend the scope of the Consumer Protection Act 1987 (CPA) to cover the supplying (hiring or lending) of specified goods (upholstered furniture and certain furnishings) “in the course of business”.

The safety regulations apply to the following furniture provided in a rental property:

  • Arm chairs, three piece suites, sofas, sofa beds, futons and other convertible furniture.
  • Beds, Bed bases and headboards, mattresses, divans and pillows.
  • Nursery furniture
  • Garden furniture which could be used indoors
  • Loose, stretch and fitted covers for furniture, scatter cushions, seat pads and pillows.

For furniture in a rental property to comply with the regulations they must carry a manufacturer’s label which must be permanent and non-detachable.

  • All upholstered items must have fire resistant filling material.
  • All upholstered items must pass the “match resistance test” as prescribed.
  • All upholstered items must also past the “cigarette test” as prescribed.

DO I NEED AN ENERGY PERFORMANCE CERTIFICATE (EPC) WHEN LETTING A PROPERTY?

Since October 2008 all landlords letting property to new tenants require an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC).  An EPC will give an energy efficiency rating from A to G, A being the most efficient and an environmental impact rating. The regulation means that properties must have an E rating or higher in order to issue a new tenancy for a property.

An EPC will also estimate the energy use, carbon dioxide emissions, lighting, heating and hot water per year, along with the potential annual costs for each.  Energy performance certificates are valid for a period of ten years. However, if home improvements are made which may affect the energy rating then the property can be re-evaluated with a further EPC survey.  The cost of an EPC survey is around £65.

OTHER RESPONSIBILITIES

Right to Rent
Check your tenant has the right to rent your property if it’s in England

How to Rent
Give your tenant a copy of the How to rent checklist when they start renting from you (this can also be emailed to the tenant)

Leave your tenants in peace
A ‘covenant of quiet enjoyment’ is part of most tenancy agreements. It means a Landlord must not interfere with the tenants.

Insurance
You will be required to take out Landlord insurance against the property to let and the contents that are included with it. Your insurance should cover you as a Landlord in terms of renting the property and should carry Public Liability insurance – normal household buildings and contents cover probably won’t cover these.  The Tenant is responsible for insuring their own possessions.

Casa Property Management is obliged to refuse to take on a property to let where the furniture, furnishings, gas installations or electrical equipment do not comply.

WHAT IS THE TENANCY DEPOSIT SCHEME?

The Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS) is a government approved tenancy deposit protection scheme in England and Wales operated by The Dispute Service Ltd.

Under the provisions of the United Kingdom Housing Act 2004 every landlord or letting agent that takes a deposit for an assured shorthold tenancy in England and Wales must protect the deposit under an authorised tenancy deposit scheme of which there are two; Insured and Custodial.

Casa Property Management is a member of the Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS) and all tenancy deposits are registered under the custodial scheme. This means the deposit will be held by the TDS for the duration of the tenancy.

How the Tenancy Deposit Scheme works
In the event of a dispute that cannot be resolved between the landlord and tenant, either party (or Casa Property Management) can instigate adjudication with the ADR (Alternative Dispute Resolution Service). This must be done within 28 working days of the tenancy ending and the following documentation must be sent to the ADR:-

● The signed tenancy agreement
● Inventory and schedule of condition for both check in and check out procedures
● Evidence that the claimant has tried to negotiate a settlement
● Any other documentation to support your claim

Once the ADR receives the documentation, the dispute will be adjudicated within 28 days. Once the adjudication has taken place the deposit monies will be distributed.

Where the amount of the deposit in dispute is £5,000 or more, the ADR does not generally adjudicate these cases, although he may do so at his own discretion and with the consent of the parties. Alternatively the parties must agree to submit to formal arbitration through the engagement of an arbitrator appointed by the ADR the cost of which will be borne equally between the landlord and the tenant.

In all probability you will not need to call on the ADR. However, if you do, it is important that before the tenancy commences we organise a professionally prepared inventory, schedule of condition along with supporting photographic evidence  for the landlord and tenant. The schedule of condition must be signed personally by the tenant at check in and check out.

Benefits
● The deposit is fully protected and insured
● The deposit is returned promptly if there is no dispute
● In the event of a dispute it is quicker and less stressful than going to court
● The property can be re let whilst adjudication is taking place

OUR SERVICES
We understand that as a landlord your income depends on finding the right tenant and keeping your property well maintained to protect its long term value. So depending on if, you want Casa Property Management to simply find you a tenant or you prefer for your property to be managed by us we are more than happy to help.

Find Tenant Only Service
The Find Tenant Only service we offer is for Landlords that want to take a more hands on approach to their investment, with this service we can take care of the following:

● Market your property online
● Find a suitable tenant
● Reference the tenant
● Draw up the Tenancy Agreement
● Arrange the Inventory and Check In

Once the tenancy starts you will then take over the full management of the property.  If, however during the tenancy you feel that you have mde the wrong decision and would prefer that we took over the full management of the property, this can of course be arranged.

Full Management Service
Managing your own property portfolio can often prove time consuming and stressful especially when working full time, managing a household and looking after your children.  With this service we take care of the full process from marketing your property, to finding a tenant, up to the check-in and start of the tenancy.  We will then take over the full management of the property, leaving you free to concentrate on other things.

How we can manage your property
As part of our property management service we will do all of the above plus:

● Visit your property on a quarterly basis and make sure it’s in top condition. We will provide you with a report supported by photos and if we think any works are needed we will let you know.
● Arrange day to day maintenance, redecoration and repairs on your behalf, with your authorisation.
● Give you advice on how to make the best of your property and enhance its value.
● Keep you informed on changing safety regulations to ensure you keep your property compliant.
● Handle the accounts and keep you up to date on rent payments and any maintenance spending.

Our service is charged and calculated as a percentage of the rent.

LETTING PROPERTY – THE PROCESS
Letting out a house, flat or studio can be a great investment, but there are a few things to look out for. We can help you find tenants, get the right price and manage the paperwork. Let us take you through how it works.

STEP 1: Make your property look its best
We’ve found that when a place just feels right, the first few minutes are often all prospective tenants need to decide.  This means that making your property look its best could be the difference between a quick rental and a long slog with an empty house or flat on the market. Letting a property doesn’t have to be hard work.

Presenting to rent
● Be objective – don’t overlook flaws just because you don’t mind them
● Reduce clutter – get rid of everything but the bare essentials
● Decorate neutrally – tenants should be able to see it as their home, not yours
● Keep it light – clean the windows and use light colours to decorate
● Outside and in – fresh paintwork and well cared for outside spaces make a great first impression

STEP 2: Get a valuation from a letting agent
A little research can give you an idea of what the right rent is for your house or flat. Ask yourself

What’s the going rate in your area? Check with Watsons or search online for similar properties.

How much do you need to cover your mortgage and other expenses?

If you want a professional opinion on where to set your rent, get in touch with us and we’ll value your property for free and without any obligation to use us for letting or management.

STEP 3: Find your tenants
If you decide you’d like us to let your property, just give us a call and we’ll be happy to help in any way. It’s our job to know everything about your rental. We will keep you up to date on letting your property, from who are interested in renting, to when tenants are looking round and what they think of the property.
We’ll advertise your property on the web, in our offices and in print, making sure it gets seen by as many potential tenants as possible. We’ll show prospective tenants around on your behalf and we’ll make sure it’s convenient for you and for any current tenants. It’s always best to show off a property in daylight, but
evening viewings are no problem: we’re open until 6pm Monday to Friday. We can show people round at the weekend too.

STEP 4: Get the paperwork done
When you’ve found the right tenants and they’ve agreed to move in, there’s some paperwork to be completed before the tenancy can start. We’ll take care of this and send all the documents to
you and your tenants.

We call this stage “let agreed” and it starts with checking credit references. We’ll request credit checks on your tenants, follow up references and talk you through any potential problems.

Next we’ll draw up a tenancy agreement that sets out exactly the terms of your contract with your tenant, including any special requirements you have. We’ll send you and your tenant copies to sign, all you have to do is check it, sign it and send it back to us before the tenancy starts. We will forward a copy of their signed
agreement to you and your signed agreement to the tenant.

Finally, the inventory records the contents and condition of your flat or house at the point when your tenants move in. Because it’s so important we carefully prepare your inventory with detailed photography. You and your tenant will receive a copy of the inventory and a check out will be done at the end of the tenancy to check that nothing’s missing or damaged.

STEP 5: Taking a deposit and moving in
Before the tenancy starts, we’ll collect the deposit for fully managed properties, and the first months rental payment on your behalf. As soon as this money clears, your tenants can move in. If you choose to manage the property yourself, the deposit will come direct to you from the tenant and you will be responsible for registering it with one of the Tenancy Deposit Protection Schemes.

A senior member of staff will be there to check your tenants in and we’ll make sure they get the keys.

YOUR PROPERTY HAS BEEN LET YOU ARE NOW A LANDLORD!

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