Information for Landlords
Lettings can seem complicated, but with a little planning it doesn't have to be. We are here to help and this page will guide you on some of the issues you should consider. Check our jargon buster if there are any terms with which you are unfamiliar.
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REGULATION: Lettings agents self regulate as the Government has refused to make this compulsory. The key bodies to look out for are: ARLA, NALS, and RICS. All members have clients accounts audited and must have Clients Money Protection Insurance and Professional Indemnity Insurance. If an agent is not a member of one of these bodies, you should ask yourself why. Note - the Property Ombudsman is NOT a regulator. Its a redress scheme which is only used when things go wrong. If an agent has ceased trading - it will be too late to recover any monies.
CLIENTS MONEY PROTECTION INSURANCE: If an company goes bust, you risk losing money such as rent, deposit, any float etc. If the tenants deposit is not where it should be or the agents membership of a Deposit Protection Scheme has lapsed, the Landlord will have to reimburse the tenant in full and has little hope of recovering funds. As such, it is imperative to ensure your agent holds CMP Insurance. Members of ARLA, NALS, NAEA and RICS all have such cover as a condition of membership. Would you book a holiday with a travel company that wasn't a member of ABTA? Bushells were founders of the SAFEagents initiative - click here for more information.
TAX: If you live overseas and are not a UK tax payer you can apply to receive rent without tax being deducted. For more information and details on how to apply for the Non Resident Landlords (NRL) Scheme - click HERE
BUY TO LET MORTGAGE: We are amazed at the number of landlords whose mortgage repayments have shot up as a result of the economy and Bank concerns. Landlords are understandably keen to get the highest rent possible, but often neglect to see how they can reduce their outgoings. Frequently, products have come to an end and reverted to a default rate. To compare the rate you are paying with the best rates available click here for our comparison table which is updated daily.
DEPOSITS: If you intend to manage your property, you will need to comply with the law concerning tenants deposits. The legislation aims to ensure that tenants who have paid a deposit to a landlord or letting agent and are entitled to receive all or part of it back at the end of that tenancy, actually get it. For more information on the regulations and details of how to register - click HERE
PERMISSIONS: If you are thinking about becoming a landlord with a property to let you will need to obtain permission from your mortgage lender (if you have a mortgage) and the freeholder (if you own a leasehold property) when considering property letting. A mortgage lender or freeholder might impose conditions before giving you their permission to rent out your property. You should always comply with the conditions of your mortgage or leasehold for property letting because in the worst case you could face repossession.
GAS SAFETY: All Landlords have a common law duty to ensure that gas installations and appliances supplied with their properties are safe. Tenants also have certain legal obligations when it comes to gas safety. In the case of residential properties, landlords (or their agents) have a statutory duty to arrange annual Gas Safety Checks by a Gas Safe Registered Engineer. A copy of the Gas Safety Certificate must be given to the tenant on entry and within 28 days of the annual check. A copy must also be retained by the landlord for 2 years.
INVENTORY: We strongly recommend that you instruct a specialist inventory company to provide a schedule of condition. You will pay the cost of the check in, the tenant will pay for the check out. In the event of a dispute, this document will allow the matter to be resolved fairly and swiftly. Failure to have an independent report may prejudice any claim for deductions or compensation; in fact it is almost impossible to deduct any damage from a Tenant's deposit without an independent inventory check-in and check-out report in place.
FURNITURE: The Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations 1988 (as amended in 1989 and 1993) came into effect on 31 December 1996 . As a landlord, you must ensure that furniture in your flat complies with these regulations Ė if you donít, you could be breaking the law. Itís relatively easy to check as all furniture bought since 1990 should comply with the regulations. If it does, it will have had a safety label attached to it at the point of sale.
ELECTRICAL: Under the Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 1994, landlords are responsible for making sure all electrical appliances are safe for use. To comply with these regulations, all electrical installations in the property should be regularly checked and serviced. We strongly recommend Portable Appliance Testing.
PRESENTATION: One of the most important issues in getting the best possible rent how the property looks on first inspection. Many tenants make a decision within minutes. Get rid of clutter and ensure that each room is clearly fit for the purpose. We recommend neutral colours when redecorating. Simply cleaning windows can make a big difference. Be objective and deal with any scuffs or marks. Gardens should be tidied and tools provided for tenants to maintain lawns and borders. A clean, bright, fragrant property is what tenants want.
LANDLORDS OBLIGATIONS: As a landlord youíve got legal obligations and responsibilities to your tenant. You must look after the building and keep the exterior of a property to let in good condition. Make sure you maintain the roof, drains and gutters. You must insure the property to let and the contents that are yours. Your tenants are responsible for insuring their own possessions. Your insurance company must be aware that you are renting your property as cover must include Public Liability insurance - normal household buildings and contents cover probably wonít. It is also a landlordís legal obligation to make sure that the property to let is supplied with services like gas, electricity, water, and heating. You are also required to repair any appliances which were included in the tenancy. Your tenants have the right of 'quiet enjoyment' which means a landlord mustn't interfere with the tenants.For example, you can't enter the property without the tenants express consent, except in an emergency. Do anything that affects the tenantsí rights, for example cutting off services to force a tenant to leave. A landlordís statutory obligations override anything written into the tenancy agreement.
RENT & LEGAL PROTECTION COVER: As with all insurance, it seems expensive until you need it! In today's economic climate, there is always an element of risk. In the event a tenant does not pay rent for whatever reason, regaining possession of your property can be time consuming and expensive. If a tenant speaks to the Housing Office of the Local Authority, they will be told not to move out until such time as a Court awards possession as otherwise, they will be seen to have made themselves intentionally homeless. Landlords should be aware that under 1988 Housing Act, possession proceedings cannot commence until the tenant is 2 months in arrears. It can take a few months after this to get a Court date and arrange eviction. For a relatively small sum, we can arrange Rent & Legal Protection cover which will ensure that you receive rent and have legal fees paid until you regain possession of your property. As with all things, there are terms and conditions which we will be happy to discuss with you.