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Advice for landlords letting their property

General Information & Points to note before letting your property

This information is given for general guidance only and should therefore not be relied on. It has been prepared by an experienced letting agent operating in the UK market.

It is essential that your property be presented well for letting. It should be well decorated, clean and tidy to attract a tenant who will pay a good rental. 

Under the 1985 Landlord and Tenant Act, Landlords have a legal responsibility to ensure that Tenants are “safe from harm”. This means ensuring that Landlords provide housing that is fit for habitation. 

A property available for rent, must be supplied and maintained to a good standard. Landlords must ensure the structure, hot water and water supply, lighting heating and ventilation is maintained throughout the tenancy. 

HOW DO I LET MY PROPERTY?

There are several ways to let a property:

  • Advertise it yourself in the local paper

  • Advertise on the Internet

  • Advertise in local shops

  • Instruct a professional Letting Agent 

If you are instructing an agent consider using one that is a member of one of the following professional organisations:

  • ARLA (Association of Residential Letting Agents)

  • NALS (National Approved Letting scheme)

  • NAEA (National Association of Estate Agents)

  • RICS (Royal Intuition of Chartered Surveyors) 

If the letting goes wrong or there are problems receiving your rent, in many cases if you use an agent that belongs to one of these organisations you can take the issue up with the relevant governing body. Tenants often feel more confident renting a property through an agent that belongs to a professional association.

(AST Threshold Changes from October 2010.....More Here)

EPCs Energy Performance Certificates for rental property in England and Wales start 1st October 2008...more information here at our property site.....

PRESENTING THE PROPERTY – decoration , furnishing, equipment to leave

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DECORATION - The quality of the interior decoration may substantially affect the level of rental achieved. 

Although it is not possible to redecorate your own personal home prior to letting it if you are leaving for work overseas for example, it is essential that you follow these guidelines if you are planning on letting an investment property. It is advisable to follow them as far as possible if you are a returning owner occupier. 

Carpets and walls should be neutral. Whites, creams and light pastel shades and these make a cleaner, fresher impression.

Paint finishes are much easier to maintain than wallpaper. Good quality curtains and carpets should be provided as they will have much longer life normally which is most important if you are planning on letting for several years. Magnolia has now become very dated and should be avoided if possible.

Kitchens should be well equipped (see follow on section WHAT TO LEAVE) and bathrooms should have high quality modern fittings, including a power shower whenever possible (overseas visitors will usually expect one), good lighting and tiled flooring. If you are refitting your bathrooms, white fittings never really go out of date. 

Wood flooring is now very popular and gives the illusion of more space. Kitchens should be tiled or have vinyl covering and not carpets unless they form part of a kitchen /diner and the carpet is then suitable for the dining area. 

If you are installing wood flooring in an apartment, please check with the freeholder if it is a new development, as they are not permitted in some developments because of the noise factor.

Lighting is very important for any let. Downlight spotlights in Kitchens, bathrooms and other areas help. In furnished properties, consider providing some table lamps. Don’t forget adequate lighting outdoors (often with the use of sensors) to have as a safety feature for the property.

If you have bought a property to let, make sure there are toilet roll holders, towel rails, mirror, bathroom cabinets or shelves in the bathroom.

PRESENTATION TO A TENANT 

If you are showing a prospective Tenant around, the following guidelines should be noted:

  • The property is clean, there are no dirty washing up items about and if there are any unpleasant odours, open some windows and let some fresh air circulate. 

  • Bathroom areas should be clean and leave the toilet seat down. Beds should be covered.·

  • Although you might be concerned about people walking on your carpet, some tenants are not too happy about being asked to take off their shoes.

  • Lighting – even in summer we can have some very dull days, so turn the lights on first. Lights make a property welcoming. If the viewing takes place after dark, make sure your front door outside light is switched on. ·

  • Curtains – If the curtains are pulled over during the day, pull them back. Just like ensuring sufficient artificial lighting, natural lighting is equally as important and can give the impression of more space particularly in smaller properties and rooms.

  • Garden areas - Make sure the garden is tidy and inviting

DEFINITIONS of “FURNISHED, PART FURNISHED or UNFURNISHED LETS”

  • UNFURNISHED Let with curtains, carpets and kitchen equipment – Electrical goods. (N.B. some electrical goods e.g. washing machines can be rented)

  • PART FURNISHED Let with the above plus occasional furniture – some beds, settee or dining table and chairs etc.

  • FULLY FURNISHED Let with the above, but including all furniture, china, crockery. & Cutlery etc. Do not leave the property with too much furniture as the appearance could be cluttered and rooms appear smaller than they are.

WHAT TO LEAVE – Basic Requirements for a Furnished Letting

Unless a let is in central London, Bedding, towels, TV’s, Videos are not included. However, you might be requested to allow the tenant to erect a satellite dish.

It is recommended that all items of sentimental or real value be removed as even the most careful of tenants have accidents. If you are a returning owner occupier It is important if personal possessions are stored in a secure area or with friends or family. 

If you are storing the items at the property, the storage area should be secured and keys left at the managing agents offices or with a relative or friend who can be easily contacted.

Emergency access should not be denied to a tenant in respect of gas/electricity/water mains and storage cisterns. N.B. be careful how you store your belongings. Attic areas can become very hot in the summer and garages can become very damp in the winter.

Furnishings –Each room must have adequate furniture for the Tenants’ need and we list below the minimum for an average 4 bedroom property. Some wall pictures can be included.

  • Lounge – Three piece suite, or two sofas, or four lounge chairs, coffee table. Occasional light.

  • Dining Room – Dining table, chairs sideboard/dresser/storage.

  • Kitchen – Modern cooker, fridge/freezer or separate units, washing machine, tumble dryer, (in an apartment consider a washer/dryer) Microwave – not essential, but becoming more popular.

  • Kitchen equipment – Crockery, cutlery, glasses, cooking knives, chopping board, saucepans, frying pan, wok, electric kettle, toaster, coffee/tea mugs/cups/saucers, colander, baking tins, bottle and can opener etc.

  • Bedrooms – Beds (complying to Fire and Furnishing regulations), with mattress protectors, wardrobe, bedside table, bedside lights, chair, chest of drawers/dressing table, adequate storage for the number of occupants.

  • Bathroom/shower room – shaver point, wall cabinet, toilet roll holder and towel rail.
    General Household equipment-Vacuum cleaner and tools, brushes, dustpan, ironing board & iron.

  • Garden equipment- Unless you are providing a gardening service, you should supply a lawn mower (that is capable of cutting long grass if the tenant misses some cuts), spade, fork, rake, shear, hoe, wheelbarrow, ladder etc. You might also like to consider supplying garden furniture. 

  • General: Make sure there are sufficient TV& telephone sockets around the property Most tenants usually have a computer these days and require Internet access.

WHAT TYPE OF PROPERTY IS SUITABLE FOR LETTING ?

Almost all types of property are letable, provided they are in good condition and well presented.
particularly those:

  • close to good rail and road communications

  • If there is a large garden, it is maintained

  • The rental price is suitable to market requirements

  • There is parking with the property or very close by

  • There are not too many landlord restrictions

HOW MUCH RENT CAN I ASK ?

Many factors determine the rental value of a property. These include the size of the rooms (a two bedroom apartment with two good size bedrooms will command a higher rent than one with an average size bedroom and a box room size bedroom – this type of property will attract two individuals sharing who want similar size accommodation). 

The standard of the décor and furnishing, the location of the property and current market conditions. Usually there is no difference in rental levels these days if the property is let furnished or unfurnished, but there may be a bigger demand for a furnished one/two bedroom apartment opposed to an unfurnished comparable. 

On the other hand executive corporate family lets usually look for very good six four/five bedroom, three reception, two/three bathroom houses with a double garage that are unfurnished.

HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO FIND A TENANT ?

This will depend very much on the market conditions at the time the property is being marketed and if the property is on the market at a realistic price. It can also depend on the type of property and the time of year.

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HOW LONG IS THE TENANCY FOR ?

This will vary according to a Tenant’s requirements. In general most agreements are drawn up for a minimum of six months or one year with a break clause for the tenant to give two months notice at any time after four months. (Please note that you will not normally have a break clause in an agreement and will have to add it yourself or your agent will have to do this before the start of the letting.) 

Most corporate type lets will require a property to be available for a minimum of three years, but the tenant will want the right to break the agreement. For this type of letting it is usual to have a rent agreed for the first year with an option to extend for years two and three at a slightly higher rent usually linked to inflation. You should also ensure that a modern easy to understand English language tenancy agreement is used.

HOW IS RENT PAID?

If you use an Agent for a management or rent collection service, the rent will be paid to the agent and then passed over to the Landlord less the agent’s commission each month (or agreed period). 

If you are using an Agent’s Tenant introduction service the rent should be directly paid into your bank account. You should check your bank statement a few days after the rent has been paid to make sure that it is in your account. 

If there are problems receiving it then, you can rectify the situation quickly by contacting the Tenant or agent.

RESTRICTIONS ON TENANTS 

You can put restrictions on the tenancy, e.g. no pets, non smokers etc, but the more restrictions you impose the harder it can be to let a property. 

More and more executive families working in this country want to have a pet – cat or dog and with the opening up of pet travel from the Passport for Pets programme, a landlord should consider this issue very seriously. 

Larger deposits can be taken, clauses put into the tenancy agreement stating all the carpets and curtains (and furniture if provided) has to be professionally cleaned at the end of a tenancy. 

DEPOSITS

N.B. From April 2007 under the 2004 Housing Act Landlords will no longer be able to hold deposits with AST tenancies unless they have them registered with a specific scheme. See Tenancy Deposit Scheme

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INVENTORY

Many disputes with tenants often involve the condition of the property at the end of the tenancy. It is well worth considering using an Independent Inventory Agent to carry out this work, as they are specialists in this field. 

Your letting agent may have an “in-house” inventory service or use an Independent company. If you are letting the property privately, you can still find Inventory companies listed in the local telephone directories. 

The inventory should show a list of all the contents of the property including curtains, carpets, kitchen appliances and will also state the state and condition of the walls, windows, light switches etc. 

It will be checked in with the Tenant at the beginning of the tenancy and at the end of the tenancy checked out. At the check out the Inventory Agent will assess the state and condition and prepare a schedule of dilapidations (damage, breakages) if any taking into account fair wear and tear, the length of the tenancy and the state and condition of the property when it was let.

If you are letting unfurnished, it is still advisable to have a professional inventory prepared and checked in and checked out. Inventory fees vary according to the size of a property, whether it is unfurnished or fully furnished. 

If you leave numerous items that have to be included in the inventory e.g. books in a bookcase, the contents of a garage and workshop, then obviously the costs of preparation will be much higher. 

Most letting Agents will not arbitrate in any dispute between Landlord and Tenant and the final decision remains with the professional inventory agent or a professional letting association. 

TRANSFER OF SERVICES Including Council Tax

Normally your tenant will be responsible for the payment of Council Tax, Water, Electricity, Gas, TV Licence, oil and Telephone. Between lets you will be responsible for these (except TV Licence if unoccupied). 

The agent or owner should write to the local authority and service providers advising of the change of occupier. British Telecom quite often will not transfer a service without the current subscriber agreeing to this. 

Please note the telephone number at a property is for a current subscriber and if you want to retain your existing number, you must make arrangements with BT or Telephone service provider to hold your number in “suspense”.

Water  - Water Industry Act 1991 – Information about water meters for home movers.

Since 1989, most new homes built in England and Wales have had a water meter installed. In addition to this, many water company customers previously on a non-metered supply have opted for water meter.

Since 1st April 2002 companies like Three Valleys Water Plc in England have been installing water meters when a property is sold. From the 1st January 2005 this company will also be installing meters when a property is rented out.

The government act covering this is under S1444B of the Water Industry Act 1991.

TENANT REFERENCING (see also Credit Scoring & Credit References)

Most Agents will take up Credit Search references using Letsure or Homelet Referencing. or similar types of company. Provided the references are satisfactory you can for an annual premium subscribe to their Legal Protection insurance plan. 

If the tenancy requires a Guarantor, the credit search company will advise and referencing will have to be taken up on that person. Company lets will also follow the same procedure.

Letting to Non EU Nationals in the UK 

Landlords / property owners or their agents should make sure that they obtain a photocopy of the prospective tenants passport and work permit/visa. If the applicant only has three months remaining on the visa and they are looking for a six month let, then there could be problems with them being able to remain at the property.

Several of the credit search companies when they take up references on an EU resident or non EU resident also ask for a copy of an utility bill (mobile phone bill etc) from the applicants last known address as “proof of residency”.

PROPERTY MANUAL

From experience the Landlord will normally know how equipment operates, where the stopcock is, when the dustmen call and where the nearest school and pub are located. 

You should prepare a ring binder that gives notes about the working of the property, the location of meters and the property’s postcode etc. You should also include photocopies of instruction manuals for the washing machine, cooker, vacuum cleaner, water softener etc. 

INSURANCE & LEGAL EXPENSES INSURANCE

You must advise your insurance company that the property is being let. This should cover the buildings policy and contents. You should also check to ensure you have sufficient public liability cover. 

Many people who let unfurnished do not insure their contents. Contents insurance for let property is really not expensive. If for example you had a burst pipe in the attic and water damage penetrated through to the kitchen. The buildings policy would normally cover replacing the ceilings, decoration, but not your carpets or curtains that were damaged as a result of this accident.

A tenant is normally responsible for insuring his/her contents and this will not cover your belongings. It is possible to take out insurance to cover the legal costs of pursuing claims against the tenant arising from a breech of the terms of the tenancy, including the costs of obtaining repossession.

When you take out a Buildings Policy the main insured perils should include Fire - Lightening - Aircraft - Explosion - Smoke - Impact - Burst pipes or leakage of oil - Storm or flood - Subsidence damage - Theft- Malicious damage. (Some policies will give the option of malicious damage caused by the tenants - a valuable option for let properties). Most policies will compensate you for loss of rent following damage from one of the above perils if the property is uninhabitable. Check this out with your block management agent if you have an apartment and don't arrange the buildings insurance yourself.

It should be noted however, that damage to property caused by tenants who are classed as DSS asylum seekers, refugees or students will no longer be covered under some buildings insurance for blocks of apartments and you should seek professional advice.

If your flat is let and you have not taken out additional insurance, you will be held personally liable in the event of damage to property, including neighbouring properties, howsoever caused, including all costs incurred by the Management Company, solicitors, neighbours etc.

SEE Security Tips for Property Owners


For further information on insurance services for Landlords go to jml-property-insurance.co.uk  Because of the Regulations on the sales of Landlords & Tenants insurance policies no advice can be given and you must contact Endsleigh, Rentguard, Homelet or any other provider for advice on p
olicies.

Assured and Assured Shorthold Tenancies: A guide for landlords

Hot tips for cold weather from Thames Water Here

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INCOME TAX

The income derived from letting your property is subject to UK tax. The position can vary depending if you are a UK resident or a UK non-resident. It is money very well spent to use an accountant. 

Income earned in the UK is subject to taxation under self-assessment. This means that the landlords will receive their income from an agent less any bills the agent has settled on their behalf. 

Any tax implications will be between the landlord and Inland Revenue. If you are a UK resident you will receive the usual personal allowances applicable to your circumstances, which may be offset against all your taxable income. 

Income from letting a property is subject to income tax at the basic rate on profit. Profit is assessed after deducting expenses from the rent received; examples are:

a) Any water, electricity, gas charges paid by the Landlord.
b) Insurance Premiums related to the cover of the buildings, contents and loss of rent.
c) Repairs – but not improvements.
d) Letting Agents, accountants and legal fees- including VAT.
e) Mortgage interest payments.
f) Maintenance contractors e.g. gardening contractors 

If you are going abroad, it is essential that you apply for your FICO (Financial Intermediaries and Claims Office) number through the Inland Revenue as quickly as possible. The Inland Revenue has further information and you can download information including a FICO application form at inlandrevenue.gov.uk/cnr/nr_landlords.htm

Please note until an Agent is informed by the Inland Revenue of a FICO Approval number that they are not able to pay over the rent without holding back an amount for tax. If the certificate is not received or approved, they will have to retain money for tax and pay this over to the Inland Revenue on a quarterly basis. 

They would also make an administration charge to cover their time in carrying out this work. If you are collecting the rent direct, your tenant should withhold a percentage to cover any tax liability, so it is essential that a) You obtain a FICO approval and b) you employ the services of an accountant. 

If an Agent is acting on a Tenant introduction basis and you are going overseas you must still obtain a FICO approval number as otherwise the tenant living at the property would be responsible for the paying of tax and most tenants would not want this inconvenience. The Letting Agent would also be duty bound to advise them of the situation.

Overseas Properties - UK TAX

If you invest in overseas property you must declare the profits in the UK. Unless you are classified as non-UK domiciled, you are taxed in the UK on all your income and gains wherever these profits arise. If you let your overseas property you should inform the tax authorities where the property is located, which will sometime mean completing a tax return in that country.

The income and expenses from your foreign property must be listed on the foreign income pages of UK tax return.Any foreign tax you pay on that income can normally be off-set against the UK Tax duew where a double taxation agreement exists between the UK and the country where the property is situated. Remember other countries have different rules for tax deductible expenses. Take professional help.

Resident Landlords

If you rent out part of your own home this can also count as residential lettings, but you can take advantage of the 'Rent a Room' scheme instead. This lets you get tax-free income of up to £4,250 from letting rooms in your home. More information


LEASEHOLD PROPERTY/ CONSENTS TO LET

If you have a mortgage, you should gain consent from the lender prior to lending. If you do not you will be breaking the mortgage covenant. Most lenders will give consent provided they have seen and approved a tenancy agreement and that satisfactory references are taken up on a given tenant.

In the case of a Leasehold Property, a consent to underlet may be required from the Freeholder under the terms of the head lease. You may also have to pay for a consent to underlet a leasehold property. You might be required to provide a copy of the Lease to be incorporated into any tenancy agreement that is prepared.

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LEGAL WORK

Most Agents will prepare the appropriate Tenancy agreement is written in modern day user friendly legally approved language. If you are letting the property yourself you may consider using the services of a Solicitor.

TENANT’S DEPOSITS

When an Agent is rent collecting or managing a property they will normally hold the deposit in separate clients account. You should find out if your agent is a member of a professional body like ARLA, NALS etc and maintains separate clients accounts. On average a rental equivalent to six weeks rent should be held. 

Sometimes a tenant will stop the final payment of rent and suggest that you have the deposit instead. In the event of this happening when there is only a months deposit held, there will be no money for end of stay dilapidations or cleaning etc. 

There will be occasions, e.g. some Military and Corporate lets where the company or country will guarantee the deposit and will not therefore physically pay a deposit. Remember if you hold the deposit, it is not your money and should be kept in separate bank account. 

REDIRECTED POST

You should consider paying The post Office to redirect your post for you. The Post Office charges for this service, but you should receive your post quickly. Although a tenant might initially send on the post to the agents or Landlord, this can delay matters. 

Apart from arranging the redirection via the post office, you should also leave your forwarding address in the Property Manual with a note requesting them to cross through your address and forward it on. (It does not cost anything in the UK, but it will if the item has to be sent overseas). You should also write to your bank, Credit Card Company, insurance, mortgage company, friends and give them your new address 

KEYS

You should leave sufficient number of keys for the number of people renting the property. Some Agents will retain a set at their offices. You should label up all the keys at the property. e.g. garage door, French windows, front door, windows etc.

ALARM SYSTEMS

If you have an alarm system make the Tenants (and Agents if applicable) have the appropriate access codes. It should be clearly defined who actually pays for alarm maintenance – Landlord or Tenant.

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SAFETY GAS, ELECTRIC, FIRE & FURNISHINGS, SMOKE DETECTORS See Press Report Apri 2006

Gas: The regulations were introduced to ensure that appliances are properly installed and maintained to avoid the risks of carbon monoxide poisoning. At the commencement of a letting, a Landlord is required by law to hold a current Gas Safety Record. 

The tenant must be provided with a copy of the record prior to occupation. The gas safety record must be renewed annually and must cover all gas appliances in the property. An authorised CORGI registered engineer can carry out the Inspection. N.B. A standard annual service would not be sufficient to comply with the requirements of the regulations

Husband and wife fined over gas safety breaches....More Here September 2010

  • Electricity: At present there is no specific statutory requirement to prove that the appliances supplied are regularly checked or tested; the Landlord does have a duty of care. Dangerous wiring, flexes, exposed cable and damaged sockets must all be replaced. Appliances must be fitted with a sleeved insulated plug. See also FACT FILE - Part "P" Building Regulations (Electrical Safety in Dwellings) Click Here

  • Furniture & Furnishings: From the 1st January 1997 any furniture supplied as part of a new letting that commenced after 1st March 1993 must comply with the regulations. They do not apply to Antique furniture made before 1950, carpets, curtains, pillowcases, duvets, bed linen or loose cover for mattresses. Generally they apply to all other furniture that has a cover fabric and filling including cushions, padded headboards, loose covers, beds and pillows etc. If your items do not comply and have appropriate safety labels, they should be removed from the property. The independent inventory agent will normally note down the compliance on the inventory.

  • Smoke Detectors: These are compulsory in all new homes built since June 1992 and these have to be fitted via a mains feed on each floor. There are no specific statutory regulations stating these have to be put in older buildings (unless it is a registered House in multiple Occupation), but it is advisable to fit a battery detector in stairways and halls/landings. You might also like to consider providing a fire extinguisher and blanket for the kitchen. 

CLEANING & GARDENING

Before a Tenant moves into your property that it is professionally cleaned throughout. If you have not had your carpets cleaned for a while, they must be professionally cleaned and you might like to consider having a protective coating put on them by the cleaning contractor. Windows should be clean inside and out.

You should make sure that your chimneys and flues have been swept. In many tenancy agreements, a clause states that tenants should do this during the tenancy, but they must also be done prior to the tenancy starting.

It is often normal practice to have a clause in the tenancy agreement stating the gardens have to be maintained in a satisfactory condition. Over the last twenty years, the lifestyle of a tenant has changed. You do get some enthusiastic gardeners, but the majority of tenants are working long hours and when it comes to a weekend want to pursue other activities rather than gardening. We would suggest whenever possible:

  • a) You have a gardener to attend to hedges, shrubs and trees at least twice a year or

  • b) Include this together with regular maintenance of lawns and flowerbeds. A tenant who knows that they will not have to look after a garden will be happier to rent your property. 

EMPTY PROPERTY

You will find that most Letting Agents will not be responsible for a property between lets and that you have to agree a fee for checking the property. You should also check the terms of your property insurance regarding this issue.

During the winter months if the property is empty that either you have the water system drained down professionally or leave the heating running.

INVESTMENT PROPERTY – BUY TO LET - See also our Pages Buy to Let Uk - Buy to Let in Europe

Buying residential property can be an attractive investment. Many people are now purchasing property as part of their pension arrangements. Investors should be aware that it is best managed as a medium or long term proposition. 

There are a host of factors that may influence the type of property that is acquired as well as the geographical area that is chosen. It is always best to seek professional advice in each instance before deciding on a property and we would be happy to assist you and you take into consideration the following:

  • Length of lease, if leasehold

  • Service charge and consents to let from freeholder 

  • Location

  • Floor level if you are purchasing an apartment

  • Property type – 4 bedroom property should have at least two bathrooms etc

  • Amount to be spent on the property – New bathroom & Kitchen, decoration levels

WHICH LETTING SERVICE DO YOU WANT FROM YOUR AGENT?

Many UK agents offer three types of service:

  • TENANT INTRODUCTION

  • RENT COLLECTION

  • FULL MANAGEMENT SERVICE 

TENANT INTRODUCTION: The Agents find a tenant, take up credit search references, prepare the tenancy agreement *, arrange the check in of the tenant * and advise the gas, electricity & water companies & local council of change of occupier. After that the rental is paid directly to the Landlord and all management is carried out by the Landlord The letting fee is payable once the tenant has been installed. 

RENT COLLECTION: The Agents find a tenant, take up credit search references, prepare the tenancy agreement *, arrange the check in of the tenant * and advise the gas, electricity & water companies & local council of change of occupier. The Agent collects the rental and pays this over to the Landlord each month less their fees. The Landlord carries out all management.

FULL MANAGEMENT: The Agents find a tenant, take up credit search references, prepare the tenancy agreement *, arrange the check in of the tenant * and advise the gas, electricity & water companies & local council of change of occupier. They collect the rental and pay this over to the Landlord each month less their fees & manage the property. This involves dealing with enquiries from the tenant, arranging routine maintenance e.g. washing machine repairs, plumbing repairs etc and visiting the property approximately three times a year for a property inspection. If major works are requested by the Landlord, e.g. decoration, new carpets, insurance claim work etc, they would usually make an additional charge.

*Please note additional charges are normally payable for Tenancy Agreement preparation & independent Inventory Agents charges.

Stamp Duty on Tenancy Agreements: From the 1st December 2003, Stamp Duty has been abolished and replaced with Stamp Duty Land Tax. The starting point for this is £125,000. This means that the vast majority of Tenancy Agreements will not attract SDLT and this will be the responsibility of the tenant.

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LETTING A ROOM IN YOUR OWN PROPERTY - Where you live More information

Many people have decided to let out a room in their own property as a way of helping with morgage costs . HM Revenue and Customs allows the owner occupier a tax-free income of up to £4,250 from letting rooms in your home.

A lodger can occupy a single room or an entire floor of your home. However, the scheme does not apply if your home is converted into separate flats that you rent out. In this case you will need to declare your rental income to HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) and pay tax in the normal way. Nor does the scheme apply if you let unfurnished accommodation in your home.

You do not have to be a home owner and can choose to take advantage of the Rent a Room scheme, regardless of whether you are a home owner or are renting your home. However, if you are renting, you should check whether your lease allows you to take in a lodger.

If you're a mortgage payer it's best to check whether taking in a lodger is within your mortgage lender's and insurer's terms and conditions.

Tenancy Agreements for being a Resident Landlord

Once you have found a tenant it is best to make out a tenancy agreement with them. You do not need to fill in any special forms, but it is best that you make an agreement in writing. This will help you if there are any problems later. There are some basics which should be included in your agreement

  • How much notice you must give the tenant
  • How much notice the tenant should give to you
  • How long is the tenancy is for
  • Which rooms are being let
  • Which facilities are being shared
  • How much the rent will be paid
  • Does the rent include bills? e.g electricity, gas, telephone, internet, water, Council tax and even food.
  • When the rent is due
  • How should rent be paid (cash, cheque, standing order, direct debit etc.)
  • Is the deposit payable when the tenant moves in and when it will be returned and how it will be held

Both you and the tenant should sign the agreement.

TAX: If you rent out part of your own home this can also count as residential lettings, but you can take advantage of the 'Rent a Room' scheme instead. This lets you get tax-free income of up to £4,250 from letting rooms in your home. More information

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CHECKLIST 

Listed below is a summary of points that need to be addressed prior to the tenancy starting:

  • MORTGAGE Get permission to let from your Mortgage Lender 

  • LEASEHOLD PROPERTY Obtain consent from the Freeholder if you are a leaseholder

  • INSURANCE Review Buildings and Contents insurance You can do this via Letsure or Homelet by going to www.jml-property-insurance.co.uk 

  • MAIL Arrange for the redirection of mail with the Post Office

  • PROPERTY INSTRUCTIONS Prepare a Property Manual with instructions for appliances, location of stop cocks and an information guide for Tenants – local schools, neighbours, shops etc

  • GAS SAFETY CHECK Organise a gas safety check & appropriate certificate

  • ELECTRICAL CHECK Make sure that all appliances are compliant and that wiring and sockets are safe.

  • CHIMNEY / FLUES Make sure that these have been swept prior to letting 

  • SMOKE DETECTORS Smoke & CO detectors are in working order 

  • FIRE & FURNISHING Only furniture & soft furnishings that meet the current regulation should remain 

  • STOP COCKS Label up internal stop cocks 

  • LPG GAS BOTTLES Make sure these are full at the tenancy commencement 

  • OIL TANKS Make sure that these are full at the tenancy start 

  • SEPTIC TANKS Ensure that these are emptied at the start of the tenancy 

  • KEYS Label up any keys you leave at the property or bring to our offices indicating the doors/windows they are for. 

  • PERSONAL ITEMS Ensure that all personal and valuable items are suitably securely stored or removed 

  • TELEPHONE Ensure that there is a line installed and that you have requested a closing account 

  • CONTRACTORS Provide the agent or Tenant with a full list of contractors (if we are rent collecting or offering an introduction and you want the tenant to arrange for his/her own repairs) 

  • DECORATION Make sure the property is in good decorative condition 

  • GARDEN Ensure the garden is suitably maintained and if a gardener is being provided with the let make arrangements for this 

  • PROPERTY CLEANING The property should be professionally cleaned prior to the let Provided the instruction is in writing the agents can arrange this. 

  • UTILITIES & COUNCIL TAX You should advise the service companies of the new tenants names and take the gas & electric meter readings(and water if on meter) and write to the companies and local authority.

©jmlpropertyservices February 2004

SEE ALSO:Information for landlords letting or thinking of letting a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) - New Rules for Landlords - Anti-Social Behaviour Act (Scotland) 2004 - Click Here for further information

Housing Act 2004 - Chapter 34 -Click Here

Download our PDF guide How to Present Your Home for letting - Click Here

New Tenant moving into your property? Download our PDF "Welcome to your new home" letter - Click Here

See also

Landlord Insurance Article by Philip Suter

and

Problems with Accepting Housing Benefit in England and Wales Article by Philip Suter

Click on logo for  Homelet Specialist Landlord Insurance Online Quote

Thinking about selling your property? Click Here

Landlord Fined £42,000 after Girl's Death (jml Property News April 2006)

A landlord has been fined a total of £42,000 at Winchester Crown Court for breaches of gas safety legislation. The prosecution followed a Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation into the death of Katie Overton on 29 March 2003. Katie, aged 11, died from carbon monoxide poisoning at a rented house in Oxford Road, Southsea, Hampshire. At the time of her death, Katie's parents were renting the property. The carbon monoxide fumes came from a gas boiler which was found to be in a poor condition. The boiler had not been serviced since 1996 and, although subjected to a number of gas safety checks during the time the house had been let to tenants, these checks had not been carried out within the required 12 month intervals.

On 11 April 2006, The Landlord pleaded guilty at Andover Magistrates' Court to failing to ensure that the boiler was maintained in a safe condition (contrary to Regulation 36(2)(a) of the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998) and also to three charges of not having gas safety checks completed within 12 month intervals (contrary to Regulation 36(3) (a). The case was referred to Winchester Crown Court for sentencing. He was fined £20,000 for the failure to maintain the boiler and a total of £22,000 three failures to have a gas safety check carried out within the required period of time.

He was also ordered to pay £18,000 towards prosecution costs. Speaking after the case, Mike Harrison, Principle Inspector of Health and Safety, said: "Katie's death was a tragic reminder of what can happen when gas boilers aren't maintained properly. Landlords of rented properties should remember that, not only must gas appliances be subject to annual safety checks; they must also be maintained in a safe condition. This means that gas boilers should be serviced in accordance with manufacturers' instructions, usually annually, by a CORGI registered installer as well having annual gas safety checks carried out on them." April 2006

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