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GUIDE TO RESIDENTIAL LETTINGS


Welcome To Roffeys Residential Lettings

Roffeys Residential Lettings was established in 1988 and continues to operate successfully in the towns and villages of West Essex and East Hertfordshire. We remain a family-run, independent agency business that holds dear to our original values of providing outstanding customer service and expert advice, supported by an in-depth knowledge of the local rental market.

Members of our dedicated team of experienced lettings consultants and property managers are passionate about what they do and strive to introduce only the best and most appropriate tenants. We aim always to reach a clear understanding of your individual requirements, for you to enjoy peace of mind when you entrust us with the letting and management of your property.

We trust you will find the information in this guide both helpful and informative but should you have any questions or areas you would like us to expand on then please contact us and we will do our best to provide the answers you require.

 

Pre-marketing appraisal

Prior to letting we provide a free, expert appraisal of your property. Following our initial visit, we will offer advice on anything we feel requires attention and give you our professional opinion as to an achievable current market rental.

We thoroughly recommend that your property is presented in its best possible condition. This should involve a clean, serviceable kitchen and bathroom, a sound central heating system, fresh, neutral décor and tidy garden (if any).

No two properties are the same and valuations will differ from property to property. In providing you with an accurate rental valuation, a range of things needs to be considered including location, size, parking, heating, presentation and rent already achieved for comparable local properties. We will, however, always strive to ensure your property gives you the best possible return on your investment.

CLICK HERE for a FREE, expert rental valuation

 

Preparing your property for letting

Mortgages

Where the property to be let is subject to a mortgage, written permission must be granted by the lender prior to any tenant moving into the property. It is sometimes appropriate to remortgage with a specialist lender and our independent mortgage adviser can provide an across-the-market perspective and completely impartial advice in this regard.

 

Insurance

It is essential that the building and its contents are insured, both while the property is vacant and while it is let. Your insurers must be informed that the property is to be let, as failure to do so may well invalidate cover. It is the responsibility of the landlord to ensure that their property is adequately insured and that public liability cover is in place. Landlords should also consider a basic contents insurance policy to cover accidental damage. For all-round security, we recommend that landlords are covered by a comprehensive legal expense and rent guarantee policy in the event of a tenant defaulting on payment of rent.

We can arrange this form of specialist cover for which full details may be obtained from our offices or website at www.roffeys.net. Tenants are responsible for ensuring that all their personal possessions are covered by their own tenants’ contents insurance policy.

 

Leasehold Properties

If the property to be let is held on an unexpired lease, you will normally require written permission from the freeholder, or their managing agent, prior to letting the property. The lease should specify whether or not it is necessary to obtain permission from the freeholder to sub-let. It is essential to clarify the situation before marketing your property as some leases place restrictions on the type of sub-letting that is acceptable. As a landlord of a leasehold property it also remains your responsibility for payment of any service charges and ground rent.

 

Security

Security systems, such as locks on windows and external doors, lights, and even alarm systems are often considered essential by prospective tenants and are taken into consideration by most leading insurance companies when calculating premiums.

 

Decorations and Carpets

We recommend these should be fresh and neutral in terms of colour and style. Higher-quality properties will always attract tenants of good calibre and it is, therefore, vital that a property is well-presented to meet the expectations of potential tenants.

 

Furnished or Unfurnished?

One of the first decisions to be made is whether to let your property furnished or unfurnished and overwhelmingly, the greatest level of demand from tenants is for properties that are available unfurnished.

 

The advantages of letting unfurnished are:

  • lower turnover of tenants

  • less wear and tear on your furnishings

  • lower maintenance and repair costs

 

Unfurnished lettings generally include:

  • carpets or laminated flooring

  • curtains or blinds

  • light fittings

  • kitchen appliances (known as white goods) which should be in good working order, with instructions and, preferably, insurance for breakdown

  • small wall-mounted items such as mirrors in the bathroom and cloakroom, toilet roll holders and towel rails

 

If you choose to let your property furnished you need to be aware of the following:

  • all soft furnishings including beds, upholstered chairs and sofas, curtains etc, must comply with the Furniture and Furnishing (Fire) (Safety) Regulations Act 1988. Any furniture manufactured before March 1950 will generally not comply

  • all bed linen, towels and anything of monetary or sentimental value should, ideally, be removed

  • if an electrical appliance such as a kettle, or washing machine breaks down, it is the landlord’s responsibility to repair or replace it

 

Domestic Appliances

These should be of robust quality and subject to regular servicing. It is important that full instructions for use are left at the premises to avoid the need to call an engineer to demonstrate. Gas and electrical appliances must meet legal safety requirements.

 

Property Folder

Many landlords choose to compile a property folder. This should include copies of manufacturers’ appliance manuals and a local guide, together with any other information that your tenants may find useful, such as details on resident parking permits and refuse collection.

 

Cleaning

It is essential that the property is handed over in a clean condition. We very strongly recommend that the property be professionally cleaned throughout, including all carpets. This creates a benchmark that will be recorded in the Inventory and Schedule of Condition, and will allow us to maintain a high standard through subsequent tenancies. We can provide details of reputable and economical cleaning contractors, as required.

 

Gardens

Gardens should be left in good seasonal order so that the benchmark is set for the tenants whose responsibility it will be to maintain them to the same standard. We recommend that suitable tools are provided by the landlord. If the garden is particularly large, or complicated to maintain, it may be appropriate for the landlord to retain responsibility for maintenance, in which case this will be reflected in the rent. We will be happy to help find suitable gardeners, be it for a full maintenance programme, hedge/lawn cutting, pruning, or an occasional tidy.

 

Gas, Electricity and Water

These services should be left connected, ready to be transferred to the tenant’s name. Under the Housing Health and Safety Rating System, tenants must be able to control and regulate heating systems.

 

Council Tax

Your tenants will be responsible for payment of council tax throughout their tenancy. If you are letting your property through us, we will notify the local council tax office of each change of tenancy and of any void period between tenancies.

 

Keys

When the property is let, you must provide one full set of keys for each

tenant. In addition, where the property is managed by us we will require one full set of keys to be retained at our office. We are obliged to charge for key cutting if insufficient keys are supplied at the outset and recommend that you test any newly-cut keys prior to handing over.

 

Telephone

If a telephone line is installed at a property you should instruct the provider to put a temporary stop on the line when you vacate and send you a closing account.

 

Empty Properties

It is important that you comply with any insurance requirements during vacant periods, especially during the winter months.

 

Safety regulations and precautions

Failure to comply with the following Safety Regulations may constitute a criminal offence under the Consumer Protection Act 1987 and could lead to a fine or imprisonment.  In any case, landlords have always had a duty of care under common law to ensure that rented property is kept in a safe condition and it is, therefore, essential to examine the property and its contents closely before letting.

 

Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS)

The Housing Health and Safety Rating System was introduced under the 2004 Housing Act. It is a risk-based evaluation tool, designed to identify potential hazards to health and safety from any deficiencies identified in dwellings. Common breaches of this legislation include a lack of extractor fans in bathrooms and kitchens, trip hazards such as uneven patio slaps and loosely-fitted carpets, or staircases without handrails.

 

Fire and Furnishings Regulations

Under the Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations 1988 (amended 1989 & 1993) specified items supplied in the course of lettings property must meet minimum fire resistance standards. The regulations apply to all upholstered furniture, beds, headboards and mattresses, sofa-beds, futons and other convertibles, nursery furniture, garden furniture suitable for use in a dwelling, scatter cushions, pillows and non-original covers for furniture. They do not apply to antique furniture or furniture made before 1950, bedcovers including duvets, loose covers for mattresses, pillowcases, curtains, carpets or sleeping bags. Items that comply will have a suitable permanent label or swing tickets attached. Non-compliant items must be removed before the tenancy commences.

 

Electricity

The Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 1994 state that all electrical appliances, both fixed and portable, in rented accommodation must be safe. The only sure method of checking this is to have them all tested and labelled periodically by a qualified electrician with the appropriate portable appliance testing equipment.

 

Gas Safety Regulations for Landlords and Agents

From 31st October 1994 it became law for gas equipment in rented properties to be serviced and safety checked before a tenancy, and then annually by a registered installer – and for landlords and/or their agents to keep accurate records of work carried out on all appliances in their control, confirmed by an official safety certificate. It is a legal requirement that we ensure that a Gas Safety Certificate is provided to the tenant annually.

This, of course, includes all gas appliances like cookers, fires and flues, as well as boilers and water heaters. Landlords are reminded that only British Gas or Gas Safe registered plumbers and heating engineers should carry out this work. It is desirable to leave all gas appliances with service contracts in place.

 

Smoke Detectors and Carbon Monoxide Alarms

Private sector landlords are required from 1st October 2015 to have at least one smoke alarm installed on every floor of their properties and an audible carbon monoxide alarm/detector in any room where a solid fuel is burnt. In addition, it is recommended that an audible carbon monoxide alarm/detector be situated in a room where a gas-fired appliance is fitted, such as a central heating boiler. We recommend one alarm/detector of compliant British Standard is fitted for each room that contains a gas appliance. It is always a legal requirement to be able to demonstrate that alarms are in working order at the start of each new tenancy.

 

Legionnaires Disease

The Health and Safety Executive have made it clear that the landlord, or the landlord’s agent, are responsible for helping reduce the spread of legionella bacteria in water systems in private rented properties. The landlord has overall responsibility to ensure their properties meet these requirements. It is, therefore, recommended that you have a water assessment undertaken to check for legionella bacteria, the cause of legionnaires disease. This assessment will identify and evaluate potential sources of exposure and recommend steps to prevent, or control, any identified.

 

Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005

This came into effect in October 2006 and applies to the common parts of blocks of flats and houses in multiple occupation (HMOs). It is a mandatory requirement that a detailed fire risk assessment be carried out to identify any risks or hazards, and any such findings should be eliminated or reduced.

 

Energy Performance Certificate

From 1st October 2008, all rental properties with a new tenancy in England and Wales are required to have an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC). The EPC will rate the energy efficiency of a property and its environmental impact. The EPC survey must be completed prior to marketing a property and any tenant is required to receive a copy of the report before entering into a tenancy agreement. Part of the EPC is a recommendation report which will list the potential rating that your home could achieve if you made changes. The report lists improvements that you could carry out and how this would potentially change the energy and carbon emission rating of the property. Details of the property’s energy rating in accordance with the EPC must be available with any marketing particulars and we upload any required information onto websites we use for marketing the property. An EPC is valid for ten years and we can arrange for a qualified Domestic Energy Assessor to provide the required certification.

 

Introducing the right tenants

Marketing Your Property

As soon as Roffeys Residential Lettings receives your instructions to proceed, our enthusiastic and experienced team will commence the process of introducing a suitable tenant. Prospective tenants who are registered on our extensive database will be contacted by telephone, email and automated SMS text, advising them of the details of your property. Full details, including internal and external photography and floor plans, will be made available on the leading property portals and also on our website www.roffeys.net.

Our use of social media is a further effective means of attracting a suitable tenant. We also advertise our rental listings in our glossy property and lifestyle magazines. As well as the above, we promote available properties in our bright LED office window displays. And of course, one of the best ways to advertise your rental property 24/7 is with one of our eye-catching To Let signs.  

 

Tenants and Referencing

Finding the right tenant for a property is vital and when we feel we have a suitable prospective tenant, we will take up references on the applicant. To do this, we use a professional tenant assessment company to undertake stringent checks which include:

  • written verification of employment/income

  • previous letting reference or home ownership check

  • residency confirmation

  • identity confirmation

  • affordability calculation

  • full credit history check including:

            * county court judgement (CCJ) search

            * bankruptcy & IVA data search           

            * linked address checks

            * electoral roll presence

            * existing credit arrangements

 

With prospective tenants who satisfy all the above checks we can offer landlords Rent Guarantee and Legal Protection cover for extra peace of mind.*

 

Setting up the tenancy

The Tenancy Agreement

We use approved tenancy agreement documentation designed to protect landlords’ rights to possession, help control tenants’ activities and comply with standard mortgage lender requirements. Tenancy agreements are usually for an initial term of twelve months, with a six months’ break-clause included, as required.

While The Housing Act specifies different types of tenancy, it is most likely the tenancy for your property will be an Assured Shorthold Tenancy. Alternatively, a Common Law Tenancy is used when an Assured or Assured Shorthold Tenancy is inappropriate; for example, a letting to a company, a tenancy where the annual rent is more than £100,000, or at a proportionate level for a shorter tenancy, or where the landlord is a resident landlord.

 

Tenancy Deposit Scheme

Mandatory legislation means that, by law, where a security deposit is taken from tenants for Assured Shorthold Tenancies in England and Wales, it must be covered by a Government-approved tenancy deposit protection scheme. No landlord is now able to hold a tenant’s security deposit for an Assured Shorthold Tenancy unless they, or their agent, is a member of an approved scheme.

Roffeys Residential Lettings is a member of a Government-approved scheme known as Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS) which is administered by The Dispute Service Limited. This allows us to retain custody of your tenants’ deposit under the terms of the scheme. Further details of the Tenancy Deposit Scheme are available from:

 

The Dispute Service Ltd

Tel: 0300 037 1000

Email: deposits@tenancydepositscheme.com

 

At the end of the tenancy the landlord and tenant should attempt to agree a basis for the repayment of the deposit. If there is a dispute the TDS provides an independent arbitration service for the case to be dealt with by an Independent case examiner. The examiner is an impartial, qualified expert who will make a decision and this helps to avoid the need for potentially protracted litigation.

 

Inventory and Schedule of Condition

It is essential to have a detailed inventory/schedule of condition prior to each tenancy. At the end of each tenancy the property is inspected against the inventory/schedule of condition and any deterioration to its condition is duly noted. The tenant is responsible for the cost of rectifying any damage, over and above what is considered normal wear and tear, caused by them at the property. It appears legislation has become weighted in favour of tenants and it is, therefore, essential to provide a properly prepared and accurate inventory/schedule of condition to protect the interests of landlords. We can arrange this using local independent inventory companies with whom we work on a regular basis.

 

Rental Payment and Security Deposit

When the tenant signs the tenancy agreement we take the initial month’s rental payment, together with a security deposit. We always ensure that funds are cleared before any tenant can occupy your property. At the same time, we ask the tenant to provide evidence from their bank that a standing order has been activated. The security deposit will then be held in an approved and protected account.

 

Important considerations

Landlord Responsibilities

Every landlord is statutorily obliged to ensure that the accommodation they offer meets a certain standard of fitness for occupation. Landlords have obligations to maintain their properties in states of good repair, including the structure and exterior of the property. They should also ensure that their properties are free from damp and have adequate heating, lighting and ventilation.

As a landlord, you also have responsibilities for the maintenance and repair of any equipment within the house such as cooker, fridge, washing machine and dishwasher, should you choose to supply such items. It is the responsibility of the landlord to ensure the property has provision for the supply of essential services such as water, electricity and gas (if applicable).

 

Void Periods

Our full-management service does not include the management of the property when it is vacant, although in the normal course of showing it to prospective tenants, periodic visits may be made to the property by our lettings staff.

 

Instruction of Solicitors or Legal Advisers

We shall not be held responsible for payment of rent, or other monies owed by the tenant, and should it prove necessary to employ the services of solicitors or legal advisers you will be responsible for instructing them and for all fees involved.

 

Taxation of Rental Income

If you instruct us on either a letting and rent collection, or full- management basis, we will provide you with monthly statements of account. You will need to maintain an accurate record of all income and expenditure in connection with the letting of your property, for the dealing of your tax affairs and annual self-assessment tax return.

For both UK landlords and non-resident (overseas) landlords, we must report to HM Revenue & Customs on an annual basis detailing gross income achieved on all our landlords’ UK rental properties. Your assessment will initially be based on that gross figure, without any allowances, and it will be your responsibility to claim any relevant expenses and relief.

 

Non-Resident (Overseas) Landlords

Special rules apply to UK rental income of non-resident landlords, or landlords who live abroad (usually for more than a six months period). If you let your property through an agent, then the agent is required to deduct tax at the basic rate from your rental income, unless they receive a landlord’s approval number issued by HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC). In order for you to receive your rent in full, without deductions having to be made, we strongly recommend that you submit an application to HMRC for a landlord’s approval number at the earliest opportunity. Any landlord named on the tenancy agreement when living overseas requires a separate approval number from HMRC.

Please be aware that we are not tax advisers and cannot deal with income tax assessment on behalf of our landlords. We strongly recommend that landlords seek professional advice in relation to taxation of their rental income.

 

You may be assured     

Roffeys Residential Lettings is a proud member of the property industry’s leading organisations who require us to maintain high professional standards and be bound by their codes of conduct

  • The Property Ombudsman

  • Guild of Property Professionals

  • Association of Residential Letting Agents

  • National Association of Estate Agents

  • National Approved Letting Scheme

  • Safe Agent

 

 

* Charges apply; details on request.