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Landlord Advice

This section of our website is designed to provide Landlords with general information regarding the letting of their property.  Please feel free to contact us to ask any questions that you may have or if you need us to provide you with specific advice on any areas of concern, we are here to help.

WHAT IS AN ASSURED SHORTHOLD TENANCY?

Assured Shorthold Tenancies (AST) are tenancies which are generally let to private individuals where the rental income is under £25,000.00 per year.  This form of tenancy is usually granted for an initial fixed period of six or twelve months, if a landlord wishes the property back at the end of the fixed period or a tenant wishes to leave at the end of the fixed period, two months notice to quit must be given.  However, if after the fixed period has expired and no notice has been given, the tenancy will automatically run on a periodic basis, in this case a tenant would need to give one months notice to quit and a landlord two months notice to quit.  It is therefore important for a landlord to ask a tenant to sign a new fixed tenancy should they require peace of mind that their property is let for a six or twelve month period.

MORTGAGES AND LEASES

Unless you have a buy to let mortgage, if your property is subject to a legal charge or lease, we would recommend that you advise all necessary parties that you intend to let your property out and obtain any necessary consent under the said legal charge or lease before proceeding with the tenancy rather than waiting until a tenant is found.  Please note your lender may have the power to withdraw their mortgage to you if their permission is not sort.

PREPARING YOUR PROPERTY

From our experience tenants look for a property which is clean, well managed and good value for money, a property in which they feel comfortable in.  A property that is well presented and maintained in a good decorative order should not only be easier to let out, but should also command a higher rental figure than those that are not.  Tenants are also more inclined to treat a well presented property with more respect.  Where possible, please leave photocopies of any manuals or instruction books regarding central heating systems and appliances at the property.  We would advise that you retain any originals as well as guarantees or warranties in case these are lost by a tenant.

PROPERTY MAINTENANCE

In most instances you will need to keep in repair the exterior of the property you are renting out as well as internal structures, stairs, baths, sinks, basins and heating and hot water installations.  Unless otherwise stated you will also need to repair or replace any items/appliances that are included in the let and are referred to on the inventory.  We have a small team of local independent contractors who can respond to instructs should you require their services.

UTILITIES AND OTHER EXPENSES

You should notify all service providers (ie gas, electricity and telephone companies) and the water board that the property is to be let out  You should also ensure that all appropriate meter readings are taken and your liabilities are met. This should be done prior to the commencement of a tenancy.  A tenant will normally be responsible for these services from the date of their tenancy until they vacate.  You should also notify the appropriate Council of all relevant dates and liabilities for Council Tax.

INSURANCE

You should check your buildings and contents insurance as most high street providers will not insure a tenanted property on the same terms as an owner occupied property.  You may need to purchase a special landlords insurance policy.  Please note that an Assured Shorthold Tenancy stipulates that a landlord must insure the property and any contents listed on the inventory.

UK BASED LANDLORDS

If you as a landlord reside in the United Kingdom you should declare your rental income to the Inland Revenue annually, rent is assessable for income tax.  Please note certain items are tax deductible however, like our fees, property maintenance and buildings/contents insurance.  Your accountant should help you with these matters.

NON RESIDENT (OVERSEAS) LANDLORDS

If you as a landlord reside abroad, we are legally bound to deduct tax at the Basic Rate (as amended from time to time) from your monthly rental.  By instructing us to act for you, you give us your irrevocable authority to make such payments to the Inland Revenue on your behalf.  If however, you wish to make these payments direct, you should apply for dispensation from the appropriate Tax Authority.  You must complete form NRL1 and lodge the same with the Inland Revenue.  A certified copy of the letter of approval from the Inland Revenue must then be lodged with ourselves otherwise we will be legally bound to continue to make the said payments.

TENANCY DEPOSIT SCHEME

From 6th April 2007 all deposits taken by landlords and letting agents under Assured Shorthold Tenancies in England and Wales must be protected by a tenancy deposit scheme.  Landlords must not take a deposit unless it is dealt with under a tenancy deposit scheme.  Each scheme is supported by an alternative dispute resolution service (ADR).  There are two types of scheme, a single custodial scheme or an insurance based scheme.  To learn more, visit www.gov.uk/tenancy-deposit-protection

COUNCIL BASED RENT DEPOSIT SCHEMES

These deposits schemes are being run by the relevant local councils, for example Tendring District Council and Colchester Borough Council.  These schemes generally provide that the relevant council gives an undertaking/guarantee that they will cover an agreed fixed deposit should a tenant default on the terms of their tenancy.  It is important to note that not all tenants in receipt of housing benefit are eligible for these schemes.

PROPERTY FITNESS STANDARDS

The Housing Health and Safety Rating System is legislation put in place to assess the fitness of housing.  This is based on a risk assessment process.  Any action taken by a local authority regarding this legislation will be based on the consideration of 29 special hazards.  If a hazard is found at the property you are renting out, we reserve the right to take immediate action to resolve the problem.

FIRE REGULATIONS

You as a landlord have a legal obligation to a tenant to ensure that all furniture at your property comply with the current Fire & Furnishings Regulations.  A label displaying the appropriate British Standard should be visible.  It is also recommended that a smoke alarm is fitted on each floor of the property you intend to let out.

GAS SAFETY

If your property is let with gas appliances, then you must provide us with two valid up to date Gas Safety Certificates.  The Gas Safety Certificates must have been issued by a Corgi registered engineer and must be in place before a tenant can take occupation of your property.  Failure to meet these conditions could result in criminal proceedings or cause a delay in a tenant moving into your property.  Gas Safety Certificates must be issued annually.

ELECTRICAL SAFETY

There are several regulations relating to electrical installations, equipment and appliance safety affecting landlords and their agents, as a landlord (“supplying in the course of business”) you have a legal obligation to a tenant to ensure that all electrical appliances at your property comply with these regulations, these include the Electrical Equipment Safety Regulations 1994 as amended, the Plugs and Sockets Safety Regulations 1995 as amended, the 2005 Building Regulation – Part P and British Standard BSI363 relating to plugs and sockets.  Although there are no current legal requirements for a landlord to have a electrical safety certificate with tenanted property (unless it is a house of multiple occupancy), it is now widely accepted in the letting industry that the only way to ensure safety and to avoid the risk of being accused of neglecting you duty of care to a tenant, or even charges of manslaughter is to arrange to have one done.  Please advise us if you wish us to arrange for an Electrical Inspection to be carried out at your property.  We would strongly advise this.