LETTING THE PROPERTY
Once instructed, we will commence a search for a suitable tenant.
Referencing is one of the most important parts of the rental process. We employ the services of a professional, third party referencing agency that look into any potential tenant's credit history, employment status and income, previous landlord history along with carrying out electoral roll checks and bank account verification before reporting on whether they deem them acceptable for the proposed tenancy. We can supply a rent guarantee and legal protection policy if required for all tenants deemed acceptable for the proposed tenancy. Full details upon request.
THE TENANCY AGREEMENT
We will discuss with you the best terms and conditions then prepare the appropriate legal agreement. In most cases we recommend an Assured Shorthold Tenancy Agreement, usually for a minimum term of six months. If you require the property back at the end of this period, notice must be served at least two months before the expiry date. On request, we will deal with this and also the necessary procedures should you decide with the tenant that the term might be extended.
It may be that your property is mortgaged to a building society, bank or other lender. If so, the mortgage deed will almost certainly require the written consent of the lender to be obtained before you let the property. If your property is mortgaged you should apply for consent.
LEASEHOLD FLAT AND OTHER PROPERTY
If your property is leasehold, you may require the consent of the freeholder for your proposed letting.
RESTRICTIONS AFFECTING YOUR PROPERTY
Whether your property is freehold or leasehold there may be special rights or restrictions affecting it. We will need to have details of these to include in the Tenancy Agreement. It is the Landlord's responsibility to make us aware of any salient points in the head lease that need to be included in the tenancy agreement and we will not be held responsible for their omission.
ATTIC, CELLAR, GARAGES, PARKING AND EXCLUDED AREAS
We do not inspect the above areas but we may ask you to confirm the contents of these areas (if any) as this may affect safety issues. During our Routine Visits to managed properties we will not visit these areas unless requested to do so. It is strongly recommended that you do not store items on the property once let.
We always advise Landlords to make sure that the property and its contents are adequately insured (unfurnished properties may still have contents such as curtains, white goods etc). It is extremely important that you advise your insurance company that you are proposing to let your property and that you confirm to them once this has been done. Failure to do so could result in you losing insurance cover. Some insurers impose letting conditions and we would require details as this may affect the choice of tenant. If they are not happy with you letting the property we may be able to introduce you to companies that specialise in insurance for the rental market. Dealing with insurance claims are outside of our management and a landlord will need to deal with their insurance and building management company directly.
Income received from letting your property will be subject to income tax and you will need to include details of the income and allowable expenses when completing your income tax return. The Inland Revenue may ask us directly for details of any income we pay you and we are obliged to supply these details.
Non UK Resident Landlords
If you live overseas and haven't already done so we strongly recommend that you apply for a Non Resident Landlord (NRL) exemption number as soon as possible. This exemption number means that we will be able to pay rent to you without deducting income tax and you can apply online here https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/non-resident-landlord-application-to-receive-uk-rental-income-without-deduction-of-uk-tax-individuals-nrl1i , our agency number is NA027681. If you do not have exemption we have to deduct income tax at the basic rate from rent payments received and remit these deductions to HMRC on your behalf. We will charge you a fee of 1% above our management fee if you are an overseas landlord without an exemption certificate and we are required to account to deduct tax from rent and account to HMRC on your behalf.
Deposits paid by tenants must now be protected by a government approved deposit scheme.
Let only and Rent Collection Tenancies
It is the landlord's responsibility to ensure the entire deposit is protected in a custodial or insurance backed scheme even if the amount remitted to you after the deduction of our fees is less than the deposit itself. The landlord agrees to make up any shortfall and to protect the deposit in its entirety according to legislation.
When we manage the tenancy we normally collect a security deposit from the tenant and where appropriate we will lodge the deposit in The Deposit Protection Scheme (DPS). At the end of the letting this is returned to the tenant, less any deductions made to cover breaches of the Agreement.
The rent is usually payable monthly in advance. Under our full management service we will collect the rent and account to you at agreed periods (usually monthly).
We try and pay rent to landlords within five working days of receipt of cleared funds. Occasionally this can be later, during periods such as Bank Holidays and Christmas. We will always use our best endeavours to collect the rent on time. Should a tenant be late we will advise you and pay the due rent as soon as it is received. In common with all letting agents, we cannot be liable for non-payment of rent. However, we are able to offer a full rent guarantee scheme to landlords and we will discuss this with you if ask.
BILLS AND SERVICES
It is usual for the tenant to pay charges for Council Tax, electricity and gas. We will notify the authorities and service suppliers and, if necessary, take meter readings. (Tenants are, of course, entitled to change suppliers for gas and electric although we always encourage them to remain with the existing suppliers.)
It is always the Landlord's liability to keep the property and the services such as central heating in repair. Under our full management service, we will agree with you provision for emergency repairs such as a burst pipe. When major expenditure is required in a non-emergency situation we will always obtain quotations for you before proceeding.
Whether the property is furnished or unfurnished, it is important that the property is clean throughout before the tenants move in. We strongly recommend that the property, including carpets, is professionally cleaned and, if necessary, the garden made tidy. An inventory will be taken to help us ensure that the tenants meet their obligations.
We recommend that all landlords have a complete and up-to-date inventory produced and at the commencement of the tenancy a full and comprehensive check in report is produced and signed by the tenant. Without this signed documentation, a court of law or deposit protection scheme would not be able to award any deductions in your favour from a tenant's deposit at the end of a tenancy. It is usual practice for the landlord to pay for the inventory and check in report at the commencement of the tenancy and for the tenant to pay for a check out report at the termination of the tenancy.
There are strict regulations relating to the fire resistance of soft furnishings that are included in the letting. There are some exemptions but a breach of these regulations can result in criminal proceedings. The regulations make it clear that there must be no non-compliant furniture on any part of the property including garage and attic.
Under current safety regulations it is the Landlord's responsibility to ensure that the gas and electrical systems and appliances at the property are maintained in a safe condition and serviced by a qualified contractor. A gas safety check must be carried out and a safety record issued.
If any appliances are included in the letting it will be the Landlord's responsibility to ensure they are safe when the property is let. The law may also require the landlord to repair or replace these should they become defective. We advise excluding very old or defective appliances such as cookers from the letting.
Where electrical appliances are included we are obliged to supply safety instructions and we will arrange this.
The practicalities of adhering to the law relating to gas and electricity
The law relating to gas safety is very clear and means that a Gas Safety Inspection must be carried out annually. The law relating to electrical safety states that it is the landlord's responsibility to ensure that the electrical installation and appliances provided in a property are safe. If there is a fire or electrical fault causing damage in the property you could be asked in court to disclose what you have done to ensure electrical safety. We would therefore strongly recommend that you should have the electrical installations and appliances tested and if requested to do so we can arrange these tests on your behalf. This will provide peace of mind in the event of any problems caused by electrical fault. As landlord licensing becomes the norm it will become a requisite to provide electrical safety certification to the local authority.
We insist that all properties we let include smoke detectors at the rate of at least one per floor, unless the property has a full fire alarm system.
With our management service we make regular visits to the property on your behalf and advise you of any potential problems. The main purpose of such visits is to check if there are any matters that require your attention. We also seek to check that the tenant is abiding by the agreement and not damaging the property. We also give the tenant advice, if necessary, on any defects we may find. However, tenants do have a right of privacy and we, and you as landlord, can only enter the property with their consent. Similarly we are not able to comment on the tenant's life style or cleaning ability unless the property is being adversely affected. The first visit will be carried out after approximately 3 months of move in and subsequent visits will be at approximately 6 month intervals. The visit is a general overview and we will not be held responsible for anything overlooked in the visit.
LANDLORD'S PROTECTION INSURANCE AND RENT GUARANTEE
No matter how well prospective tenants are vetted, there is always the risk that a tenant will prove to be unsatisfactory, sometimes due to unforeseen changes in their own circumstances. Whilst court proceedings can be taken to enforce the terms of the tenancy agreement this is often expensive and it is unlikely that you will be able to recover the full costs involved from the tenant. We strongly recommend that you consider taking out legal protection insurance to guard against the risks involved. Similarly insurance is available so that your income from rent is not lost in the event the tenant stops paying.
Our standard agreement provides that a tenant may not allow pets in the property. However, a tenant is entitled to ask the landlord for consent. We advise that each case is considered on an individual basis. If consent is to be given by the landlord we may request an extra deposit and may insist on a full carpet clean at the end of the let including proof that the carpets have been treated for flea infestation.
GARDEN AND OUTSIDE AREAS
Tenants are required to keep these areas neat and tidy. Standard of gardening ability and knowledge can vary considerably. If the garden is particularly important or has special features, we usually suggest that the landlord provide a gardener, the cost being included in the rent. The extent of this can be negotiable and we will make the necessary arrangements and monitor the work as part of our management service.
Elizabeth Pryce fully supports the Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA) code of practice. Formed in the early 1980s, ARLA is the main industry body for lettings agents and lettings in the UK, ensuring member agents adhere to strict codes of practice at all times.
The Property Ombudsmen
Elizabeth Pryce is a full member of The Property Ombudsmen (TPO). The Property Ombudsmen provides a free, fair and independent service for dealing with unresolved disputes between sales or lettings agents and consumers who are actual or potential buyers, sellers, landlords or tenants of residential property in the UK.