Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some questions that we are most asked by landlords. If you have any further questions or would like some friendly advice, then please call us on 01582 720 777 or email us at email@example.com and we will be happy to help.
Do I need permission before I rent out my home?
If your property is mortgaged, you must obtain written consent of the mortgagor before letting it. We strongly recommend that you do this as far in advance of the letting as possible. Most mortgagors are willing to give consent, but may place certain restrictions on the length and type of the tenancy permitted.
Will I need an Energy Performance Certificate for my property?
Yes, you will. New regulations concerning rental properties came into force in October 2008. Any properties vacant and being marketed with a view to letting are required to have an EPC available to show to prospective tenants at the viewing stage. We can arrange an EPC for you if you do not already have one.
How long should I let the property for?
Assured short hold tenancies usually run for either six or twelve months, with an option to extend at the expiration of these periods.
Do I need insurance?
Your property and contents should be comprehensively insured. You should inform your insurers of your intention to let the property as failure to do so may mean the rejection of any future claim.
Do I need to pay income tax?
Letting profits are always subject to UK tax. If you are resident abroad for tax purposes, or become so during a tenancy and we are collecting your rent, we will be legally liable for payment of basic rate income tax due on your letting income. We are required to deduct tax from rent collected and pay it to the Inland Revenue quarterly. (If the tenant pays rent to you directly, he is under a similar obligation.) Tax is payable on the profits of letting, not the gross income, but because we are not permitted to take account of all relevant deductible expenditure, it is probable that the eventual liability will be less than the amounts we are obliged to deduct.
The only means of avoiding these deductions is to apply to the Inland Revenue for a Certificate of Exemption (found here). This does not affect the amount of tax payable, but authorizes us to pay rental balances to you without deduction of tax. You must deal directly with the Inland Revenue to ensure that the correct amount of tax is paid by the due dates, failing which the Certificate may be withdrawn.
We strongly recommend that you speak to your accountant to ensure that your tax liabilities are minimized and statutory obligations are met.
What is the tenant responsible for paying for at the property?
Council tax and utilities are the responsibility of the occupier. During vacant periods the charge reverts to the owner.
It is the tenant's responsibility to take meter readings and communicate them to the relevant utility companies and to pay the utilities companies direct. Please make sure to provide us with the details of your current utilities suppliers so that we can facilitate the smooth transfer of utilities.
What do I need to know about safety regulations?
GAS: Under the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 all gas appliances and flues in rented accommodation must be checked for safety within 12 months of being installed, and thereafter at least every 12 months by a competent engineer (e.g. a CORGI registered gas installer). There is a duty to ensure that all gas appliances, flues and associated pipe work are maintained in a safe condition at all times. Records: Full records must be kept for at least 2 years of the inspections of each appliance and flue, of any defects found and of any remedial action taken. Copies to tenants: A copy of the safety certificate issued by the engineer must be given to each new tenant before their tenancy commences, or to each existing tenant within 28 days of the check being carried out. As it is a legal requirement for all properties that have gas to have a valid gas safety certificate and for the tenants to receive a copy upon taking possession of the property, we will not be able to proceed with letting the Property unless we have a valid gas safety certificate.
ELECTRICITY: Landlords have a duty to ensure that electrical equipment is safe. There are several regulations relating to electrical installations, equipment and appliance safety, and these affect landlords and their agents in that they are 'supplying in the course of business'. They include the Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 1994, the Plugs and Sockets Regulations 1994, the 2005 Building Regulation - 'Part P, and British Standard BS1363 relating to plugs and sockets. Although with tenanted property there is currently no specific legal requirement for a qualified electrician to carry out an inspection and issue a safety certificate (as exists in the case of gas appliances), it is now widely accepted in the letting industry that the only definite way to ensure safety, and to avoid the risk of being accused of neglecting your 'duty of care', or even of manslaughter is to arrange such an inspection and certificate.
Fire Safety - You have to provide a smoke alarm on each storey of the building and a carbon monoxide alarm in any room with a solid fuel burning appliance (for example a coal fire or wood burning stove).
FURNISHINGS: You are required by law to ensure that furniture left at the property complies with current fire safety regulations. With very limited exceptions, soft furnishings in let property must comply with current fire safety standards and carry identification labels to that effect. In practice this means that any soft furnishings purchased before 1990 will probably require removal or replacement.
General Product Safety
The General Product Safety Regulations 1994 specify that any product supplied in the course of a commercial activity must be safe. In the case of letting, this would include both the structure of the building and its contents. Recommended action is to check for obvious danger signs - leaning walls, broken glass, sharp edges etc., and also to leave operating manuals or other written instructions about high risk items, such as hot surfaces, electric lawnmowers, etc. for the tenant.
Additional regulations will come into force subsequent to the Housing 2004 Act, namely the Housing Health & Safety Rating System (HHSRS) that will be used to assess conditions in all private properties including those that are owner occupied. Properties will be assessed against 29 potential hazards, which the local authority will be responsible for assessment. Further information on this can be found on this government website www.communities.gov.uk
Electrical, gas, plumbing, waste, central heating and hot water systems must be safe, sound and in good working order.
Do I need to furnish the property?
A large percentage of tenants looking to rent property in the city centre will require a furnished property. It is recommended that you leave the property fully furnished to a good standard with neutral furnishings (please refer to safety regulations above).
There is also a large demand for unfurnished property. If you intend to let the property unfurnished, we recommend that the property contains window dressings and some white goods. Of course a full inventory of all the furniture and fittings at your property is essential to ensure that the tenancy deposit return can be decided fairly a the end of the tenancy.
What should I remove from the property?
Personal possessions, ornaments, pictures, books etc. should be removed from the premises, especially those of real or sentimental value. Some items may be boxed, sealed and stored in the loft at the owner's risk. All cupboards and shelf space should be left clear for the tenant's own use.
Who is responsible for repairs?
The Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 section 11 (as amended by section 116 of the Housing Act 1988) requires the landlord to keep in repair the structure and exterior of the property together with installations for supply of water, gas, electricity and sanitation, and to keep in proper working order installations for space and water heating.
How will the property be left at the end of the tenancy?
At the commencement of a tenancy the property must be in a thoroughly clean condition, and at the end of each tenancy it is the tenant's responsibility to leave the property in similar condition. Where they fail to do so, cleaning should be arranged at their expense; usually this amount will be deducted from their deposit. The deposit can be used to cover the cost of damages, missing items and cleaning but by law cannot be deducted for unpaid utility bills or wear and tear at the property.
Repairs and maintenance are at the landlord's expense unless misuse can be established.
What Information should I leave for the tenant?
It is helpful if you leave information for the tenant on operating the central heating and hot water system, washing machine and alarm system, and the day refuse is collected etc.
What information do I need to provide my letting agent with prior to letting my property?
In order to proceed quickly and efficiently with the letting of your property we would require the following information from you at the instruction stage;
- Proof of ownership
- Signed terms
- Bank details & Personal contact details
- Keys, alarm codes fobs etc., & car parking details where relevant
- Copies of current gas & electrical safety certificates (or permission for us to obtain these one on your behalf)
- Details of current utility suppliers
- Details of the management company for the building where relevant.
What happens with regard to keys, fobs codes etc.?
It is your responsibility to provide each tenant named on the lease agreement with all necessary keys, codes and fobs for access to the property. The tenant is responsible for replacing any keys or fobs that are damaged or misplaced during the course of the tenancy or for replacing locks if necessary. Where we are managing we will arrange to have duplicates cut as required.