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Landlord's Guide

Considerations for Landlords Before Letting:

Consents:
Before renting your property written consent must be obtained from your Mortgage Provider and Freeholder (if the property is leasehold). You should also advise your insurance company to obtain appropriate insurance for a tenanted property. There are specialist insurance companies who can provide this cover and we would be happy to direct you to them.

Tax - The Inland Revenue must also be informed within 6 months of letting your property, flat or apartment in the UK and failure to do so will incur penalties, interest and other consequences. The Inland Revenue are apt to deal harshly with Landlords who do not declare rental income and it is always best to seek advice on tax planning and Capital Gains Tax from a fully qualified Accountant. Mail - Mail should be redirected with the Post Office. Keys - Further copies of keys will need to be provided, at least two if you have Management Agents acting for you. Utilities - Utilities such as gas/electricity/water/telephone & Council Tax will have to be transferred to the incoming tenant.
 
Inventory - An Inventory and Check- In should be drawn up. This is an important legal document which forms an integral part of the Tenancy Agreement and we advise that it is prepared by a professional inventory clerk. The Inventory is required whether the property to let is furnished or unfurnished. It will provide an accurate description of the overall condition of the property including wall/floor coverings, kitchen and bathroom fittings and will be an important record in the event of a dispute over the condition of the property. Amounts cannot be withheld from the Tenant’s deposit unless the loss or damage is proved to have been caused by the Tenant. In the event that any dispute concerning loss or damage to your property is not amicably resolved then the matter will be referred to the Courts and arbitration but it should be noted that any judgement will be on the basis of written documentation – the Inventory.

Tenancy Agreement – There are a number of different formats for tenancy agreements but the Assured Shorthold Tenancy is the one that is most commonly used.
 
Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST) - This form of Tenancy is attractive to Landlords as it offers market rents without security of tenure beyond the contractual term and this is the principal reason for the use of this type of agreement. However, certain criteria must first be met:

a) The Tenant must be an individual
b) The property must be the Tenant’s main residence/home
c) The rent cannot exceed £100,000 per annum
d) The Landlord must not occupy the same propertyIf the property is let under an Assured Short hold Tenancy, the Landlord can issue a Section 21 Notice to guarantee possession provided the term of the Short hold is expired and not less than two months notice has been given by the Landlord stating he requires possession. if court action is needed, this can be obtained on a number of different grounds against the Tenant. It should be noted that is a criminal offence under the Protection from Evictions Act 1977, for a Landlord to threaten or forcibly evict a Tenant from their property.

Furnished or Unfurnished - Most professional Tenants prefer the property to be unfurnished and it has been found that a Tenant is likely to respect the property more if they have their own possessions. Moreover the difference between rent for furnished or unfurnished is negligible and the Landlord remains responsible for the repair of replacement of any furnishings which become broken or worn (unless this was caused by a deliberate act of the Tenant – see Damage Deposits).

Finding a Tenant/Management – you will need to decide whether you require your agent to simply market your property and find a Tenant or whether you would like to also engage their management services.
 
  Full Credit CheckingThorough credit checks are carried out on all prospective tenants and we can reserve the right to decline an application where necessary in the interests of protecting the landlord's investment.
           

Tenancy Agreement/Leases - We will prepare and supply you with all the legal documentation and offer practical general advice.
           

Damage Deposits – This is usually equivalent to six week's rent and is taken from the Tenant to be held in our Client Account until the end of the Tenancy. Upon vacation of your property, there will be a re-inspection and any refunds will usually be made within a maximum of 28 days, provided that there are no disputes and all utility accounts have been settled.
 

Repairs & Maintenance - The costs of everyday repairs and maintenance are the responsibility of the Landlord but, if we are instructed to manage your property on your behalf, we will pay the contractor out of the Tenant’s rent. We can also organise quotes for approval on any major repair as this becomes apparent. Under the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985, Landlords are responsible for repair of the structure and exterior of the property, together with installations for the supply of gas, electricity, water and sanitation. If the property is not in a good state of repair at the commencement of the Tenancy, the Tenant has the right to insist that repairs are carried out and, in the event that the damage is serious, the Tenant will be entitled to consider the letting as terminated as the Landlord will be in breach of his obligations.

Collection of Rent – this is usually done on a calendar monthly basis and is forwarded to the Landlord via any previously approved method after any agreed deductions have been made for contractors etc.

Legal Duty of Care – Under common law, the Landlord must ensure that properties to let are safe and failure to comply with Safety Legislation is considered a criminal offence resulting in legal action and prosecution.

Gas – (The Gas Safety (Installation & Use) Regulations 1994 (amended 1998) – the Landlord must maintain gas installations and all gas appliances through annual inspections and safety checks carried out by a CORGI registered engineer and a copy of the Current Inspection Certificate must be left at the property.

Electricity - (The Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 1994 & Electricity at Works Regulations 1989- the Landlord must ensure that all mains voltage household electrical appliances and equipment is tested and safe to use. Any non-repairable items must be replaced and removed. An NICEIC or similarly qualified electrical engineer must carry out these tests on an annual basis and we would also recommend this is done upon a change of Tenancy.

           
Equipment - All operating instructions must be left in the property for the Tenant's benefit.
 
Furniture and Furnishings – The Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety)Regulations 1988 (amended 1989 & 1993) - Soft furnishings (such as mattresses, settees, bed bases, cushions and padded headboards) must meet fire resistance standards and bear a permanent label confirming this. If compliance cannot be proved, the item must be removed and replaced.

Smoke Detectors – whilst only properties built after 1992 legally require the fitting of smoke detectors (Building Regulation 1991), we would strongly recommend that smoke detectors are fitted to each floor of the property being let/

Penalties - The penalty for failure to comply with statutory safety legislation is currently a maximum of £5,000 and/or 6 months imprisonment for each offence. This can be harsher in the case of injury or fatality.
      

 

Overseas LandlordsYou are considered an overseas Landlord if you live abroad or go to work abroad for lengthy periods of time. It is important to note that Inland Revenue regulations apply even if you are a non-UK resident. Moreover, non-resident Landlords must apply to the Inland Revenue Financial Intermediaries Claims Office (FICO) for authorisation (by way of an exemption certificate) to receive payment of property rental “gross”, that is without deduction of Income Tax (This information is merely a guide and for fully qualified advice, you should contact an appropriate Accountant or Tax Expert).

These notes are offered only as a guide and should you have any further enquiries, we would recommend that you contact a qualified solicitor for advice.


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