Landlords

advice about insurance products

General Advice for Landlords

Congratulations on making the decision to explore the options in letting your property. As many people have found out, with the proper advice, the correct Letting Agent & Management Service, appropriate insurance, property letting can be financially attractive for both the short term rental income and long term property growth.

Here at TJS Property People we can give you advice on all the stages of letting, from a free, no-obligation valuation to full property management, giving you peace of mind.

Generally speaking, letting is a fairly straightforward process, however there are a few things that need to be made clear.

This information sheet will discuss;

The steps that the landlord is required to check before letting.

General property condition.
Furnishings
Safety regulations
The letting & management process

Pre-letting steps.

Mortgage
If your property is mortgaged, you should obtain your mortgagee’s written consent to the letting. They may require additional clauses in the tenancy agreement of which you must inform us.

Leaseholds
If you are a leaseholder, you should check the terms of your lease, and obtain the necessary written consent before letting.

Sub-letting
If you are a tenant yourself, you will require your landlord’s consent, however, normally sub-letting is prohibited.

Insurance
You should ensure that you are suitably covered for letting under both your buildings and contents insurance. Failure to inform your insurers that the property is Let may invalidate your policies. Further information is available please ask for details.

Bills and regular outgoings
We recommend that you arrange for regular outgoings e.g. mortgage, service charges, maintenance contracts etc. to be paid by standing order or direct debit.

Council tax
Council tax is the responsibility of the occupier of the property and the Landlord when vacant. You should inform your local collection office that you are leaving the property.

The Inventory
It is important that an inventory of contents and schedule of condition be prepared, in order to avoid misunderstanding or dispute at the end of a tenancy. Without such safeguards, it will be impossible for the landlord to prove any loss, damage, or significant deterioration of the property or contents. In order to provide a complete and efficient service to the landlord, we will arrange to prepare an inventory and schedule of condition. With the exclusion of “fair wear & tear”, any damage to the property would in the first instance be covered by the tenant’s security deposit or by the The Smart Deposit Solution if in place. Further damage may be covered subject to terms & conditions.

Tax
When the landlord is resident in the UK, it is entirely his responsibility to inform the Inland Revenue of rental income received, and to pay any tax due. However, where the landlord is resident outside the UK during a tenancy, under new rules effective from 6 April 1996, unless an exemption certificate is held, we as landlord’s agents are obliged to retain and forward to the Inland Revenue on a quarterly basis, an amount equal to the basic rate of income tax from rental received, less certain expenses. An application form for exemption from such deductions is available from this Agency, and further information may be obtained from the Inland Revenue.

General Property Condition

We have found that a good relationship with tenants is the key to a smooth-running tenancy. As your managing agent , the relationship part is our job, but it is important that the tenants should feel comfortable in their home, and that they are receiving value for their money. Our policy of offering a service of quality and care therefore extends to our tenant applicants too, and we are pleased to recommend properties to rent which conform to certain minimum standards. “Quality properties attract quality tenants.”

Mail forwarding
We recommend that you make use of the Post Office redirection service. Application forms are available at their counters, and the cost is minimal. It is not the tenant’s responsibility to forward mail. Likewise, at tenancy completion we recommend mail redirection to the tenants, since it is also not your responsibility for their mail.

Information for the tenant
It is helpful if you leave information/manuals for the tenant on operating the central heating/hot water system/washing machine/alarm system etc, and the day refuse is collected, including any special recycling schedule schemes.

Keys
You should provide two sets of keys for the tenant and one set to be retained by us. We would also recommend that you retain a set of keys in the event of an emergency. These keys should include all access doors/garage/windows etc.

General condition
Electrical, gas, plumbing, waste, central heating and hot water systems must be safe, sound and in good working order. Repairs and maintenance are at the landlord’s expense unless misuse can be established. Generally, third party service contracts are a good idea, since they usually include cost of parts & labour. The older the property, the more attractive these policies are. If you have a preferred contractor for a certain type of repair, notify us on our property details sheet and where possible, we will attempt to use them first. If they are unavailable or unable to respond to a (emergency) repair quickly, then we would pass the repair job to one of our reputable contractors.

Furnishings

It is recommended that you leave only minimum furnishings, and these should be of reasonable quality. It is preferable that items to be left are in the property during viewings.

Decorations
Interior decorations should be in good condition, and preferably plain, light and neutral. Avoid bright or dark colours as this can put off tenants. Landlords should be aware that redecoration should be considered every few years to maintain the property in good condition and therefore be appealing to prospective tenants. Carpets follow a similar process.

Personal items, ornaments etc.
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.

Gardens
Gardens should be left neat, tidy and rubbish-free, with any lawns cut. Tenants are required to maintain the gardens to a reasonable standard, provided they are left the necessary tools. However, few tenants are experienced gardeners, and if you value your garden, or if it is particularly large, you may wish us to arrange maintenance visits by a gardener.

Cleaning
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 will be arranged at their expense. Shortly before the end of a tenancy, we re-iterate the conditions that are required to safeguard a tenant’s security deposit, cleaning being a major part. Having a property in a clean condition is of paramount importance during viewings to attract prospective tenants.

Important Safety Regulations

PLEASE NOTE: The following safety requirements are the responsibility of the owner (the landlord). Where you have signed our Full Management Agency Agreement, they are also our responsibility. Therefore where we are managing, we will ensure compliance, at your expense.

Health and safety – gas
Under the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1994, all gas appliances in tenanted premises must be checked for safety at intervals of not more than 12 months, by a registered gas engineer, and a safety certificate issued. Records must be kept of the dates of inspections, of defects identified, and of any remedial action taken. This can either be arranged by the landlord themselves or by ourselves. Generally, we can provide this service to our landlords at a discounted rate.

Health and safety – electrical
Under the Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 1994, and other regulations, electrical installations and equipment in tenanted premises must be safe. You should therefore make a visual check to ensure that all electrical fittings, equipment and leads appear completely safe and undamaged, and arrange for a qualified electrician to deal with any faults that are discovered. Generally, we can provide this service to our landlords at a discounted rate. Landlords can themselves or through ourselves, arrange for a ‘PAT’ test on electrical equipment within the property. This PAT test certifies that each ‘portable’ appliance is electrically safe.

Consumer protection – fire
The Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations 1988 (amended 1989 & 1993) provide that specified items supplied in the course of letting property must meet minimum fire resistant standards. In practice, items that comply will have a suitable permanent label attached. Please see the table of items at the end of this document for a brief list of items.

The Letting & Management Process

You’ll find our service friendly, efficient & hassle free. That’s our goal. We strive to make the process easy and to quickly generate an income stream for yourself, whilst taking you away from the frontline.

After visiting your property, we will give our rental income value for your property and discuss the aspects of letting. On completing our Agency Agreement, we will;

Take marketing photographs.
Complete inventory & schedule of condition.
Arrange internet advertising.
If specified, erect a ‘For Let’ board.

On enquiry from prospective tenants, we will show the property as required.

On production of a holding deposit, or on receipt of payment for the “The Smart Deposit Solution” ( if applicable) we will reference the tenant using our comprehensive referencing system to ensure that only suitable tenants are moved into your property.

Should we be managing your property, we will notify all necessary utilities & council tax depts of readings and move in dates etc. At this point you will be no longer liable for those bills on the property.

We collect the due rent on the date that the tenant moved in, in monthly cycles and after commission charge deductions, transfer the balance to your account of choice on the Tenth day of the following month. Any repairs on the property are usually deducted from the incoming rent unless other arrangements are in place.

If required, we will provide any information that is necessary to assist in removing the tenant, although the landlord is responsible for any expense incurred and for arranging solicitors etc. (See following section on Rent Guarantee)

The landlord is always contacted for authorisation prior to any repair being undertaken if it is likely to exceed £100, unless property damage is likely by delaying repair work, in which case we will use our best judgement.

A periodic visit will take place for the purposes of completing a report on the condition of the property. This report will be forwarded to yourself upon request. Any findings will be highlighted to the tenant and a schedule agreed to rectify any findings.

Prior to end of tenancy, we re-iterate leaving conditions to the tenant to ensure a smooth and trouble free departure.

We will also contact you for instructions on re-letting.

On completion of a tenancy, we will again notify all necessary utilities & council tax depts of readings and move out dates etc. At this point you will become liable for any bills on the property.

Landlord Protection

Whilst TJS Property People will take every step possible to prevent problems before they occur, problems do occasionally occur. There are several options available to the landlord to minimize the impact of these problems.

Assuming that the correct insurance policies are in place, problems such as late rent to property damage can be covered and minimise any cost in repair and also ensure that rental income lost is reduced to a bare minimum.

We will only refer to insurance policies available from our recognised insurance providers, although there will be other plans available from other sources, but be aware that letting insurance is regarded as specialised and many main-stream insurance companies will not provide insurance cover. This is why it is essential to inform your insurance company of your intention to Let since letting may invalidate your current policy.

Insurance can be broken down into three areas;

Buildings
Contents
Rent guarantee & legal expenses schemes.

The landlord is responsible for ensuring that the building is insured at all times. You should ensure that you have adequate insurance of your property in place at all times.
This is essential in case of a claim made by either the tenant or contractors employed in your property.

Both the landlord & tenant must have contents insurance, although usually the landlord has a minimal contents policy. This is to ensure that either party is covered for damage to the other’s property. Various levels of insurance cover are available, no excess/malicious damage etc. Please ask for advice on choosing these policies.

Finally, TJS Property People can provide information to the landlord regarding rent guarantee policies. Please ask for details.

In summary, some people have heard the ‘alleged’ horror stories of letting, but with suitable cover, any risk and costs are minimised. TJS Property People strives to stop the problem at source, before the tenant moves in and prevent any future problems.