When you instruct a solicitor, the Law Society protects you. When booking a holiday most of us choose an ABTA registered travel agent. These are professional bodies established to maintain standards in their respective industries and protect the public from malpractice.
We are Members of The Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA) and The National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA). Member firms are kept informed of the ever changing raft of new regulations and are required to adhere to a strict code of practice.
Failure to comply can result in harsh fines or expulsion.
Regrettably membership remains voluntary allowing many agents to operate with little knowledge of the law and no insurance. For the innocent client, facing prosecution for breaking laws of which they were never advised is traumatic whilst litigation is pointless if the agent has no insurance and cannot pay.
PROTECTION OF CLIENTS’ MONIES
ARLA and NAEA both operate bonding schemes insuring all client monies held by member firms. In other words, any money we hold on behalf of your or your tenant is insured. An annual accountant’s undertaking is required to confirm Members “Client Bank Accounts” are being correctly administered.
PROFESSIONAL INDEMNITY INSURANCE
To protect you further, we hold significant professional indemnity insurance.
PAYMENT OF RENT
Where we are instructed to process rent payments, rent will be forwarded to you within five working days of receiving cleared funds (except in exceptional circumstances) less agreed deductions.
GUARANTEED RENT & LEGAL PROTECTION
References only report on past performance and circumstances do change. To combat this we offer a “HomeLet” Rent Guarantee and Legal Protection guarantee policy.
The Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998
“The Gas Appliances (Installation And Use) Regulations 1998” requires all gas appliances in rented properties to be checked by a Gas Safe registered gas installer annually. Any faults found must be promptly rectified (also by a Gas Safe registered gas installer) and detailed records kept. A copy of a current inspection certificate together with evidence that remedial work (if any) has been carried out must be left at the property.
The Furniture And Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations 1988 (As Amended In 1989 And 1993)
All soft furnishings supplied must be fire retardant. The regulations apply to beds and mattresses, headboards, sofa beds, futons etc, nursery furniture, garden furniture, scatter cushions and seat pads, pillows, bean bags, loose and stretch covers for furniture. Compliant items will be labelled.
Bed bases and or mattresses should carry the label “BS 7177.”
All other soft furnishings should carry the label “CARELESSNESS CAUSES FIRE”.
The legislation may seem daunting but compliance need not be expensive. We deal with this every day on every property we let. The regulations must be taken seriously but as a professional letting agent we will guide and help you to ensure that you comply and that your property is safe.
Replacing non - compliant furnishings or electrical appliances is NOT always necessary - we let many properties without soft furnishings and or certain electrical appliances.
The installation of at least one smoke detector on every floor is recommended. Battery powered smoke detectors often cost less than £10 each and may save lives. All new homes built after June 1992 must be fitted with mains operated smoke detectors on every floor.
THE LANDLORD & TENANT ACT 1985
Section 11 of The Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 requires Landlords to:
- Keep in repair the structure and exterior of the premises including drains, gutters and external pipes.
- Keep in repair and proper working order the installation for the supply of water, gas, electricity and for sanitation
- Keep in repair and proper working order the installations for space heating and water heating
Rental income is liable to tax whether or not the landlord resides in the UK. Tax is levied on rental profit. Mortgage interest, agency charges, furniture depreciation, repairs and maintenance is all taken into account. Landlords are recommended to seek independent tax advice.
Under current legislation, landlords must apply for an exemption certificate to be issued to us permitting us to pay the rent to you gross. Only the Landlord can make the application which, if granted, will be issued directly to the agent. If the property is jointly owned and both owners are overseas, then exemption certificates are required for both owners. Until an exemption certificate is received we are legally required to withhold a percentage of the net rental income as a provision against tax. Tenants paying rent directly to an overseas landlord should still withhold tax. The landlord has a duty of care to make the tenant aware of this.
This is held as security against damage, rent arrears and any other breaches of the tenancy agreement. From 6th April 2007 all tenants’ deposits held on Assured Shorthold Tenancies (commencing after this date) must be protected by one of three schemes. Company Lets and other forms of tenancies are exempt.
Deposits held on tenancies commencing prior to 6th April 2007 which are allowed to become periodic (roll on without a new agreement being drawn up) need not be protected. There are two insured schemes where either the agent or the landlord may hold the deposit and a Custodial Scheme which is free but the scheme holds the deposit. Further details on the scheme operators are set out below.
My Deposits (Insured scheme): 3rd Floor, Kingmaker House, Station Road, New Barnet, Herts, EN5 1NZ.
The Dispute Service (Insured scheme): PO Box 541, Amersham, Bucks, HP6 6ZR.
The Deposit Protection Service (Custodial scheme): The Pavilion, Bristol, BS99 6AA
INVENTORY, CHECK IN AND CHECK OUT:
Under The Tenancy Deposit Protection Scheme, tenants must agree to any deductions made from the deposit.
In the event of a dispute that cannot be resolved (unless the disputed sum exceeds £5000) the matter can be referred to a free but binding dispute resolution service (or you can still choose to go to Court). In any event you will need to provide documentary evidence to prove the loss or damage you are claiming was caused by the tenant.
Whilst it is not a legal requirement, if you cannot produce a detailed inventory, signed by the tenant at the start of the tenancy, together with a signed, and equally meticulous “Check In” and “Check Out” report, a case examiner working for any of the schemes or a Court of Law, will almost certainly award the disputed sum to the tenant.
LICENSING FOR HOUSES IN MULTIPLE OCCUPATION (HMO) - HOUSING ACT 2004:
Most properties do not require licensing but our understanding is that properties affected are as follows:
- Those with 3 or more storeys, including a basement or loft conversion (includes split level flats with shops beneath)
- Flats that are 3 storeys from the ground or higher – excluding (we understand) purpose built flats
- Converted flats or bedsits that SHARE amenities e.g. bathroom, kitchen, toilet, i.e. not completely self contained
Licensing is required where such properties are occupied by 5 or more people(including children) comprising 2 or more households, who share amenities i.e. bathroom, kitchen or toilet facilities. Further clarification should always be sought directly with the local authority as failure to comply can result in a fine of up to £20,000.
We are prepared to introduce tenants to properties requiring licensing (although unless the property is already licensed, we will not know if a license is required until the number of tenants taking occupation, and their relationship is established). However we can only accept instructions on a Tenant Introduction basis.
ENERGY PERFORMANCE CERTIFICATES (EPC):
On new tenancies commencing from 1st October 2008, it will be law to supply an EPC. An EPC is valid for 10 years and looks similar to the energy labels found on domestic appliances such as fridges and washing machines. The energy efficiency and environmental impact of your property will be rated on a scale from A-G (where A is the most efficient and G the least efficient).
Current running costs for heating, hot water and lighting will also be shown on the certificate, together with a list of recommended energy saving improvements. The fine for non-compliance is £200 but may in certain circumstances be significantly higher.
The landlord must advise their insurers if their property is rented as failure to do so may invalidate the policy. As well as insuring the property, landlords may also wish to consider insuring their own contents and to take out public liability cover in case of injury to a tenant in the property. As introducers to HomeLet we can provide further information if required.
GROUND RENT AND SERVICES CHARGES
The landlord is responsible for the payment of ground rent and service charges (but not utilities) throughout the tenancy. Where we are instructed to manage the property, arrangements may be made for such payments to be deducted from rents received.
PERMISSION TO LET
You will require written authority from your Lender to rent the property. In the case of a leasehold property permission is also required from the Freeholder.
The best presented properties are generally let quicker and for a higher rent
Kerb Appeal: The first thing a tenant sees is the outside of the property so ensure, as far a possible that their first impression is a good one. Flaking paintwork and unkempt gardens are extremely off putting
Keep it clean, tidy and uncluttered.
Decorate in neutral colours with plain carpets or wooden/laminate floors.
Bathrooms and kitchens must be clean.
If you intend to furnish, remember that too much furniture makes a room seem smaller whilst old shabby furniture gives a bad impression.
The tenant is not obliged to leave the property in a cleaner or better condition than it was when they took occupation.
BUY TO LET
“Buy to Let” was established to allow private investors to acquire properties to let without the need to pay commercial rates of interest. Mortgage lenders involved in the “Buy to Let” scheme will take into account the level of projected rental income likely to be generated from the property.
Some lenders insist that “Buy to Let” properties are let and managed by ARLA agents. We recommend you discuss your proposed purchase with us as buying the right property in the right location is critical.
We will be happy to speak to you about any “Buy to Let” ideas you may have.
CHOOSE THE RIGHT AGENT
Inexperienced landlords often assume that the more agents they instruct, the more they increase their chances of finding a good tenant but choosing the right letting agent is arguably more important than choosing the right estate agent.
When selling, price is generally the critical factor and it generally makes little difference to most people who sells it. Once the buyer moves in, if they damage the property or miss mortgage payments, it’s their property and their problem.
When letting, you trust complete strangers to look after your property and pay the rent. If they damage the property or fail to pay the rent, it’s your property, your mortgage and your problem.
In our view, the more agents you instruct, the greater the chance of finding a poor tenant. There is nothing wrong with speaking to several agents but only instruct one. A less reputable agent may decide not to risk allowing the property to be let by a competitor and persuade a client to accept any tenant in order to secure their commission.
Always instruct a Member of NAEA or ARLA.
Maximise your chances of finding the best tenant by instructing one reputable agent.
WHY CHOOSE US?
- Experience – Established in 1997
- We manage one of the largest property local portfolios in the area (worth an estimated £33.00 million)
- Members of National Federation of Property Professionals including ARLA and NAEA
- Regulated by The Ombudsman for Estate Agents (OEA).
- Senior personnel with experience dating back to 1987
- Separate management department with specially trained staff & sophisticated computer back up
- Rents forwarded direct to landlords bank.
- Rent Guarantee and Legal Protection.
- Independent credit referencing
- Constant supply of private and corporate tenants
- Contractors with full public liability insurance
- Specialist advice on Buy to Let Investment
- Accompanying of tenants on viewing appointments (unless by special arrangement).
- Supervising signing of the tenancy agreement.
- Ensuring compliance with statutory safety legislation prior to tenant taking occupation.
- Obtaining references.
- Free Independent Credit Referencing Service
- Obtaining deposit from Tenant.
- Serving Section 21 Notice requiring possession when tenant takes occupation (if instructed).
- Arranging Inventory and check in if requested.
Rent Processing - as Tenant Introduction plus:
- Forwarding of rents received, less agreed deductions - to be paid directly into your account
- Arranging for Tenant to sign standing order mandate.
- Sending of Rent statements.
- Sending of Rent Reminders.
- Rent Reviews
- Arranging tenancy extensions/continuations
Full Management - as Rent Processing plus:
- Rent & Legal Protection Cover Available (subject to terms & conditions).
- Supervising signing of inventory and condition report by Tenant.
- Property Visits.
- Advising Landlord of any breaches of the Tenancy Agreement as made aware.
- Rent Reviews
- Arranging tenancy extensions/continuations