Guide for landlords
Letting a property, particularly for the first time, can be a daunting prospect. Of course we are here to help and make it as smooth as possible, but some items unfortunately remain your responsibility as the landlord, including the safety of your tenants.
Here is our guide to them and the letting process, but if you have any questions remaining, please feel free to give us a call.
Gas and electricity appliances
The law usually sides with the tenant in any cases involving safety issues that could have been prevented by a simple health and safety check.
You must ensure that each gas appliance is checked for safety at intervals of at least every 12 months by a registered contractor who will issue a Gas Safety Certificate.
Whilst landlords have no legal obligation to have electrical equipment tested (unless an HMO) Trading Standards also recommend that electrical systems/equipment are regularly checked. There are very harsh penalties for landlords found to be negligent.
In addition all portable appliances should be PAT tested annually.
All electrical work in dwellings is now classed as a “controlled service” under Building Regulations. Most work now has to be undertaken by a registered domestic installer and a Certificate provided on completion of works and this notably applies to any works undertaken in kitchens and bathrooms.
We have contractors who will undertake these inspections and any work required undertaken at reasonable cost. Please contact us if required.
As from October 2015 you must have a smoke alarm on each floor and a fire blanket in the kitchen is also recommended. We strongly recommend a sealed, tamper-proof smoke alarm which has a sealed battery compartment and usually has a lifespan of 10 years. Landlords are required to ensure that any smoke alarms provided are in working order, hence our recommendations for sealed tamper proof devices.
A carbon monoxide alarm must be installed into all properties with gas or solid fuel. Smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms must be regularly tested to ensure continued compliance.
Remember as a landlord, you have a liability for a tenant’s safety and any precautions you have taken at the start of the tenancy will be recognised should any problems occur at a later date. The law views tenant’s health and safety very seriously.
Upholstered Furniture & Furnished Lettings
The Furniture and Furnishings (Fire Safety Regulations 1988), (as amended in 1989) sets levels of fire resistance on domestic upholstered furniture, furnishings and other products containing upholstery. The regulations do not apply to furniture made before 1950 or the re-upholstery of furniture made before 1950. Any furniture included in the property made since 1950 must meet the fire resistance requirements. If any furnishings since this date do not have a fire label visible, non compliance must be assumed and the item must be removed before the property is let.
Any managed property is expected to comply with all the rules/regulations applicable at the time and advice on Rules, Regulations and legal requirements in connection with letting a property can be given prior to marketing.
Housing health & safety rating system
This legislation is designed to identify risks and reduce the number of accidents in the home. There are 29 potential hazards to be checked and the risk assessment should be carried out on all properties offered to let. Any serious hazards such as non-toughened glazing indoors should be addressed prior to commencing a tenancy. Special care should also be taken with regards to steep steps, fish ponds etc. when letting properties to tenants with young children.
If you have any questions regarding any of the above, please get in touch with Whitton & Laing’s lettings team in the Exeter office.
Energy performance certificate (EPC)
All let properties must now have a current Energy Performance Certificate (EPC). These are valid for 10 years from the date it was carried out. We can arrange one to be carried out if you do not have a valid one.
Mortgage and insurance
If the property to be let is subject to a mortgage, your lender may have specific requirements before it will permit a letting and therefore it is advisable to approach them with a view to obtaining permission as early as possible. The lender would usually have the power to terminate the letting if mortgage payments are not maintained and other requirements complied with and there is provision for this within the tenancy agreement with the inclusion of the relevant 2008 Housing Act Notice.
You remain liable for the insurance of the property. Advise your insurers that your property is to be let as this may lead to an alteration in your cover or to your premium. Your insurance may be invalidated if you do not tell them.
If the property is leasehold, please ensure that:
- any intended letting is permitted by the terms of your lease
- any tenancy is for a period expiring prior to the termination of your lease
- the written permission of your freeholder, if the terms of your lease requires their permission to let.
Joint property ownership
Authority to let the property must be obtained in writing from any joint owners who should be named in the letting agreement, and all joint owners will be required to provide photographic evidence as to their identity.
As a landlord, all income received from letting your property is liable for Income Tax. Overseas landlords should note that we are bound by law to deduct and retain tax at the basic rate before forwarding the balance to you, unless a valid Tax Exemption Certificate is sent to us which is obtainable direct from the Inland Revenue. This form can be obtained and completed on-line by visiting HMRC. The certificate must be addressed to the current letting agent and is not transferable.
Fair wear and tear…?
Although tenants are expected to leave your property in the same condition as it they found it, needless to say, nobody looks after your property as well as you do and you must prepare yourself to accept fair wear and tear to both decoration and furnishings.
The definition of ‘fair wear and tear’ can vary from person to person and this is where most grievances arise between a landlord and tenant and where employing a good experienced letting agent is invaluable.
Although we endeavour to vet tenants as thoroughly as possible (read more about this) references cannot always confirm that someone will make a good, reliable tenant. The final decision for tenant’s selection lies with the landlord.
Termination of tenancy
The tenancy continues on a monthly basis until either party gives notice. It is important to note that if a landlord wishes to give notice he must do so in statutory form (being a minimum of 2 months usually served on the anniversary of the date of the month on which the tenancy commenced). Tenants are usually required to give at least 1 months’ notice in writing. On receipt of written notice from tenants the property can be re-offered to let if required (24 hours’ notice required for viewings whilst the property is occupied).
Even though an agreement is signed for a minimum term (usually 6 months), occasionally tenants ask to vacate early. We usually advise if there is a valid reason for the early termination (such as job re-location or loss), that tenants be released from the agreement, subject to other suitable tenants being found, so as not to willingly incur the landlord in loss of rent. It is sometimes a better option to end a tenancy early rather than increase the risk of loss to the landlord.
By managing the property for you, we negotiate and deal with everything mentioned above including the hassle! We are however merely caring for your investment and all decisions remain with you as the property owner. You can have as much or as little involvement with the tenancy as you wish. We do try not to incur landlords in any expense from contractors (unless an emergency) without prior consent.
Letting with knowhow...