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Paul Graham provides a range of letting and management services based on the experience, skills and expertise of our lettings team. As members of National Association of Estate Agents you can be assured that we have a detailed understanding of the lettings and management sector and will ensure that you are given the best possible service.
Over the last few years and, following the introduction of the 1988 Housing Act which offers greater protection and possession rights to Landlords, there has been resurgence in the lettings market.
People from all walks of life are looking to become involved in the rental market whether Investors, Companies, people who need to relocate with their work or homeowners who are having difficulty in selling their own properties. Increasingly, large numbers of people are entering the ‘Buy to Let’ sector as an opportunity for investment.
As a result, Landlords have come to expect extensive knowledge and expertise from the Agency they choose to act in their interests.
WHERE TO START?
1. Local Lettings Agent – we would suggest you find a local agent who is associated to a Trade Association such as NAEA (The National Association Estate Agents). In choosing us, you have come to the right place.
The NAEA is an independent organisation. It ensures that its affiliated agents meet specific professional standards and fulfil other strict criteria such as provision of a separate client account for collection of clients’ money and availability of a bonding scheme to protect the client in the event of misappropriation of clients’ funds.
2. Having chosen us as your agent, you will be required to prepare your property for rental and below we list a few guidelines to assist you:
The rental market, as with any other, is competitive therefore, in order to obtain the most suitable tenants you must present your property in the most effective way, here are some of the measures we suggest:
Interior walls should be neutral colours and carpets plain.
Fabrics and Furnishings (if any) should be able to withstand reasonable wear and tear and be of suitable quality.
Animals and their odours should be eliminated.
The front door should be clean and the entrance hall clear of any obstructions as first impressions are important.
The entire property should be clean and well-aired and the garden tidy.
If the weather is cold, heating should be turned on and, in warmer conditions, windows opened.
For any other advice contact us.
3. Other important considerations for landlords before letting:
Written consent must be obtained from your Mortgage Provider/Freeholder (if property is leasehold).
Your Insurance Company must be notified that the property is to be rented out and appropriate insurance obtained for a tenanted property. There are specialist insurance companies who can provide this and we would be happy to assist you.
The Inland Revenue must also be informed within 6 months of letting your property in the UK and failure to do so will incur penalties, interest and other consequences. The Inland Revenue are apt to deal harshly with Landlords who do not declare rental income and it is always best to seek advice on tax planning and Capital Gains Tax from a fully qualified Accountant.
Mail should be redirected with the Post Office.
Further copies of keys will need to be provided. Three sets if we are managing the property for you and two sets, if not.
Utilities such as gas/electricity/water/telephone & Council Tax will have to be transferred to the successful Tenant.
An Inventory and Check In should be drawn up. This is an important legal document which forms an integral part of the Tenancy Agreement and, as such, it is a false economy to prepare your own in most cases.
The Inventory is required whether the property to let is furnished or unfurnished and accurate descriptions of the overall condition of wall/floor coverings, kitchen and bathroom fittings to name but a few are essential. Amounts cannot be withheld from the Tenant’s deposit unless the loss or damage can prove to have been caused by the Tenant.
In the event that any dispute concerning loss or damage to your property is not amicably resolved then the matter will be referred to the Courts or Arbitration but it should be noted that any judgement will be on the basis of written documentation. The Inventory of contents will be crucial.
4. TENANCY - The great majority of lets are Assured Shorthold Tenancies (AST's) under the Housing Act 1988 (amended 1996). This type of tenancy is attractive to Landlords as it offers market rents without security of tenure beyond the contract term.
5. FURNISHED OR UNFURNISHED - Most tenants prefer the property to be unfurnished, prferring to havetheir own possessions around them. Furthermore, the difference between rent for furnished or unfurnished is negligible and the Landlord remains responsible for the repair of replacement of any furnishings which become broken or worn (unless this was caused by a deliberate act of the Tenant – see Damage Deposits).
6. MARKETING/FINDING A TENANT - You will need to obtain an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) before marketing the property. We can arrange this for you. Please contact us for up to date information on cost. You will also need to decide whether you require us to simply market your property and find a tenant or whether you would prefer to engage the services of our Management Department.
Whether you chose to opt for Full Management, Rent Collection or Tenant Find, as your agent, we will firstly provide colour property details and a rental valuation which will be based on the popularity of the area, proximity to transport, price comparison with similar properties,decorative condition to name but a few.
It is important to price your rent fairly but realistically in order to attract the most suitable tenant.
Your rental property will be regularly advertised in the local press and publications dedicated to the letting industry as well as displayed in our offices and featured on our website and other sites such as RIGHTMOVE, FINDAPROPERTY, PRIMELOCATION and many more to ensure maximum exposure. We also contact any listed prospective tenants, local companies and relocation agents.
Should you decide to employ us as your Agent, we will also field calls, arrange viewings, vet prospective tenants and obtain references, draw up contracts and advise you on your Safety and Repairs obligations (see LEGAL DUTY OF CARE).
7. FULL CREDIT CHECKING – thorough credit checks are carried out on all prospective tenants as we can reserve the right to decline an application where necessary in the interests of protecting the landlord’s interests.
8. REFERENCES – these will be obtained through us as your Managing Agent and include references from the tenant’s employer and previous Landlord.
We can also provide you with/assist you in obtaining a linked insurance policy to safeguard your rental income and provide rent & legal protection. WE PROVIDE THIS COVER FREE OF CHARGE FOR THE FIRST SIX MONTHS.
9. DRAFTING OF TENANCY AGREEMENT/LEASES – We can prepare and supply you with all legal documentation and give practical general advice.
10. DAMAGE DEPOSITS – This is usually equivalent to one and a half month’s rent and is taken from the tenant at the start of the tenancy and must be registered in accordance with current Government Legistation.
The costs of everyday repairs and maintenance are the responsibility of the landlord but if we are instructed to manage your property on your behalf, we will pay the contractor out of the tenant’s rent. We can also organise quotes for approval on any major repair as this becomes apparent.
Under the LANDLORD AND TENANT ACT 1985, landlords are responsible for repair of the structure and exterior of the property, together with installations for the supply of gas, electricity, water and sanitation.
If the property is not in a good state of repair at the commencement of the tenancy, the tenant has the right to insist that repairs are carried out and, in the event that the damage is serious, the tenant will be entitled to consider the letting as terminated as the landlord will be in breach of his obligations.
11. COLLECTION OF RENT – If this service is to be provided, this is usually done on a calendar monthly basis and is forwarded to the Landlord via any previously approved method after any agreed deductions have been made for contractors etc.
12. LEGAL DUTY OF CARE – Under Common Law, the landlord must ensure that properties to let are safe and failure to comply with Safety Legislation is considered a criminal offence resulting in legal action and prosecution.
As your Managing Agent, we can carry out safety checks at your request, deducting the cost from your rent.
1. Gas – (The Gas Safety (Installation & Use) Regulations 1994 (amended 1998) – the landlord must maintain gas installations and all gas appliances through annual inspections and safety checks carried out by GAS SAFE registered engineer and a copy of the current Inspection Certificate must be left at the property.
2. Electricity - (The Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 1994 & Electricity at Works Regulations 1989- the landlord must ensure that all mains voltage household electrical appliances and equipment is tested and safe to use. Any non-repairable items must be replaced and removed.
An NICEIC or similarly qualified electrical engineer must carry out these tests on an annual basis and we would also recommend this is done upon change of tenancy.
All operating instructions must be left in the property for the tenant’s benefit.
3. Furniture and Furnishings – The Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety)Regulations 1988 (amended 1989 & 1993) - Soft furnishings (such as mattresses, settees, bed bases, cushions and padded headboards) must meet fire resistance standards and bear a permanent label confirming this. If compliance cannot be proved, the item must be removed and replaced.
4. Smoke Detectors – whilst only properties built after 1992 legally require the fitting of smoke detectors (Building Regulation 1991), we would strongly recommend that smoke detectors are fitted to each floor of the property being let.
NB: The penalty for failure to comply with statutory safety legislation is currently a maximum of £5,000 and/or 6 months imprisonment for each offence. This can be harsher in the case of injury or fatality.
The above is only a guide to the legal safety requirements and should you have any further enquiries, we would recommend that you contact a qualified solicitor who will be able to verify these in full.
13. OVERSEAS LANDLORDS – you are considered an overseas landlord if you live abroad or go to work abroad for lengthy periods of time.
It is important to firstly note that Inland Revenue regulations apply even if you are a non-UK resident. Moreover, non-resident landlords must apply to the Inland Revenue Financial Intermediaries Claims Office (FICO) for authorisation (by way of an exemption certificate) to receive payment of property rental “gross”, that is without deduction of Income Tax by the letting agent or tenant as required by law.
NB: The above is merely a guideline and for fully qualified advice, you should contact an appropriate Accountant or Tax Expert.
BRIEF GUIDE TO SERVICES AVAILABLE:
Advice on letting your property.
Rental evaluation, provision of property details with colour photographs.
Advertising of your rental property in local publications/on our websites.
Accompanied viewings and finding of a suitable Tenant.
Status enquiries/reference and credit check of prospective Tenants.
Obtaining security deposit/rent guarantee.
Organising/preparing the Inventory and Check-In (additional charge).
Preparing Tenancy Agreement and Legal Notices (additional charge).
Arranging transfer of Utilities to tenant’s name and establishing Council Tax and Water Rates in tenant’s name.
Advising on compliance with Safety Regulations for Gas/Electricity supplies etc.
Collecting monthly rental payments and providing monthly accounting to landlords.
Arranging annual gas safety checks (additional charge).
Periodic inspection of the property and reporting of any problems.
Obtaining competitive quotations and, upon approval, arranging for necessary repairs/maintenance to be carried out.
Contacting the tenant and arranging for renewals and/or check-out as necessary.
If you would like further information, please contact us.
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