General advice for landlords
We have briefly outlined below some of the responsibilities placed upon landlords considering letting residential property. It is however by no means an exhaustive list and we would be delighted to expand on any of the points covered and answer any specific questions you may have.
Modern day tenants are increasingly demanding and here at Hayfield Robinson L&M Ltd we feel that property presentation is key in securing the best possible tenants. Particular attention should be paid to the kitchen and bathrooms and we would recommend neutral decorations throughout. An easy to maintain and economical home is what the modern day tenant requires with maintenance and disruption being kept to a minimum.
Landlords are under an obligation to offer accommodation that is fit for purpose and are responsible to ensure the exterior of the building and any structural elements are well maintained along with any fittings inside the property which form part of the dwelling. The Housing Act 2004 through the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS) identifies a number of hazards that should be considered by residential landlords when preparing a property to let. Please contact us for further guidance.
In most cases it will be a requirement of your mortgage to notify your building society/bank of your intention to let andyou will need to obtain their written permission to do so. Lending institutions can also place certain restrictions on the type of tenant or tenancy that can be used and often insist that certain notices are served prior to the commencement of a tenancy.
If you are considering letting a leasehold property then you will need to notify the head landlord and obtain their consent to let. It is also important to check the head lease to ensure any restrictive covenants contained are passed on via the tenancy agreement to the new occupiers. Please note any rent/service charges payable under the head lease remain the responsibility of the landlord.
Landlords maintain the responsibility to insure properties that are let as well as any contents they provide. In most cases it is usual that the insurers need to be informed of the owner’s intention to let. The insurer may impose certain restrictions on the type of tenant or tenancy that can be used and it is important to ensure these conditions are met to maintain the validity of cover.
Energy Performance Certificates
All residential property being marketed to let must have an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) available to prospective tenants prior to formal marketing. This certification is provided in order to enable prospective tenants to consider the energy efficiency of a property as part of their decision to take the property or not. A residential EPC is valid for 10 years or until a newer certificate is provided. During this period the same EPC can be used if the building is let again or indeed sold. It is however an offence to market a property without a valid EPC and financial penalties are imposed for non-compliance.
Tax Advice/Overseas Clients
Income from letting residential property is taxable, Hayfield Robinson L&M Ltd recommend that if you have any specific questions in relation to the tax situation surrounding residential property, then these can be directed either to HMRC or a qualified tax advisor. If the landlord intends to go overseas whilst the property is let then they may also be regarded as a non-resident landlord for tax purposes. An application to HMRC is required in order that rental income can be paid on a gross basis. We are legally obliged to deduct overseas tax until we receive an exemption certificate from HMRC Again we would suggest you seek advice from a qualified tax advisor.
The responsibility for payment of council tax lies with the owner. Once the property is let this responsibility is passed to the tenant who will create their own relationship with the local authority. Vacant properties (no one in residence and unfurnished) are subject to full council tax payable by the owner.
In most cases the responsibility for maintaining the garden is passed to the tenant, however we would recommend that gardens of particular importance or of a challenging nature are maintained during the growing season by the landlord or a gardening contractor.
Utilities and Mail
When a tenant moves out it is important that the necessary re-directions are in place to ensure mail does not go astray. It is also important to inform utility suppliers and the local authority of the change in occupancy and that accurate meter readings are recorded.
All deposits taken on residential properties must now be registered with one of three government approved schemes. Strict rules must be followed in relation to these registrations and financial penalties can be imposed for non compliance. In most cases Hayfield Robinson L&M Ltd recommend securing a deposit equal to one months rent plus £100 to safeguard landlords against breaches of the tenants obligations.
Types of Tenancy and Notice Periods
The most appropriate type of tenancy for modern day lettings is an Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST). The main reason to use this type of tenancy is that it guarantees landlords vacant possession of the property, subject to the correct preparation of the agreement and service of the correct notices. In most cases the initial fixed term for this type of tenancy is between 6 and 12 months, however Hayfield Robinson L&M Ltd will provide specific guidance and advice to ensure the correct agreements are put in place, notices are served and timescales achieved.
There is much legislation which needs to be considered when letting residential property. As mentioned earlier the landlord has an obligation to ensure accommodation offered is fit for purpose as set out under the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS) of the Housing Act 2004.
In particular the following should to be considered:
Gas Safety Regulations (Installation and Use 1998 Regulations)
Landlords must have all gas appliances inspected at least once every year for safety purposes by a gas safe qualified technician. Accurate records must be maintained and a copy of the certificate kept for a minimum of 2 years. Certificates must also be provided to tenants on commencement of the tenancy and renewal of the certificate.
Smoke Detectors Act 1991 amended 1st October 2015
All buildings constructed after June 1992 are required by way of building regulations to have mains operated smoke detectors installed. For properties constructed prior to this however it is legally required that at least one smoke detector per floor is installed and ideally these should be interlinked or at the very least ten year tamper proof. Smoke detectors should be checked monthly to ensure they are in safe working order.Carbon monoxide detectors are required for all properties with solid fuel appliances.
Electrical Equipment Regulations (Safety 1994)
Landlords who provide free standing electrical appliances must ensure that a Portable Appliance Test (PAT) is carried out annually by a suitably qualified technician. The landlord must also ensure that the electrical installation to the property is in safe working order and to achieve this we recommend that this is professionally checked by an electrician and a periodic inspection report (PIR) carried out at least once every five years.
Furniture and Furnishing (Fire Safety Regulations 1998 as amended in 1993)
These regulations set new levels of fire resistance for domestic upholstered furniture, furnishings and other upholstered products. The legislation requires all upholstered furniture including seat covers, mattresses, bed heads and garden furniture to be inspected to confirm they comply with regulations. The legal liability imposed by this legislation is considerable and in most cases it is our recommendation that upholstered furniture is removed from the property prior to letting. Where furniture does remain it must be ascertained that it meets the regulations.
Please note the above is for guidance only. Pure Lettings would be delighted to answer any specific questions you have in relation to your property and responsibilities as a landlord.