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Welwyn Garden City 01707 268782
Stevenage 01438 832235
E: property@suburbia.co.uk
Landlord Guide


Preparing the Property

We have found that a good relationship with Tenants is the key to a smooth-running tenancy. As Property Managers this relationship is our job. It is important that the Tenants should feel comfortable in their temporary home, and that they are receiving value for their money. It follows therefore that a well maintained property in a good decorative order will go towards this, whilst also achieving a higher rental figure. Tenants are also more inclined to treat such a property with greater respect.

Energy Performance Certificates

Prior to marketing the property it must have an energy performance certificate (EPC). This is carried out by a qualified Domestic Energy Assessor and usually takes three to four days from the date it is instructed. The certificate is valid for ten years.

It is a landlord's responsible for ensuring a valid certificate is made available to all prospective tenants. Not having a certificate is a criminal offence and is punishable by a fine. You WILL NOT be required to carry out any of the recommendations or need to offer any compensation to a tenant for a poor rating.

A word of caution. Not all people who offer "energy surveys" are qualified Domestic Energy Assessors and this means that your EPC will not be valid.

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 Landlords expense unless misuse can be established. Interior decorations should be in good condition and preferably plain, light and neutral.

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. If you are still unsure about certain items we will be able to advise.

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 visits by our regular gardener.

Cleaning

At the commencement of the tenancy the property must be in a thoroughly clean condition, and at the end of each tenancy it is the Tenants' responsibility to leave the property in a similar condition. Where they fail to do so, cleaning will be arranged at their expense.

Information for the Tenant

It is helpful if you leave information for the Tenant, e.g. on operating the central heating and hot water system, washing machine and alarm system, and the day refuse is collected etc.

Keys

You should provide one set of keys for each Tenant. Where we will be managing we will arrange to have duplicates cut as required.

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.

Insurance

You should ensure that you are suitably covered for letting under both your buildings and contents insurance. Failure to inform your insurers may invalidate your policies. We can advise on Landlords Legal Protection, Rent Guarantee Cover and Landlords Contents and Buildings Insurance if required.

Bills and regular outgoings

We recommend that you arrange for regular outgoings e.g. service charges, maintenance contracts etc. to be paid by standing order or direct debit. However where we are managing the property, by prior written agreement we may make payment of certain bills on your behalf, provided such bills are received in your name at our office, and that sufficient funds are held to your credit.

Council tax and utility accounts

We will arrange for the transfer of Council Tax and utility accounts to the Tenant. Meter readings will be taken, allowing your closing gas and electricity accounts to be drawn up. All these matters we will handle for you, however British Telecom and some utility companies will require instructions directly from both the Landlord and the Tenant.

Income tax

When resident in the UK, it is entirely the Landlords responsibility to inform the Inland Revenue of rental income received, and to pay any tax due. Where the Landlord is resident outside the UK during a tenancy, under rules effective from 6 April 1996, unless an exemption certificate is held, we as Landlord's Agent 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.

The inventory

It is most 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.

HMO’s and Sharers Information

Under the changes in the Housing Act 2004, if you let a property to 3 or more tenants who form 2 or more households the property then becomes a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO). For example if you let to three friends your property will then be classed as a HMO. Although this does not necessarily mean that you will need a license, your property will need to comply with different fire and safety legislation. Further information on the relevant fire regulations can be obtained from our office.

In some instances your property may require a license from the relevant local authority. This typically relates to town houses where the property is let to five or more tenants. Again further information can be obtained from our office.

Tenancy Deposits Protection

It is illegal to hold a deposit from your tenants unless it is placed in a Government approved scheme. There are three such schemes available, two are insurance backed and you will be charged an administration fee but you will retain the deposit. The third is a custodial scheme, there will be no charge for this but you will have to pay the administrator the full deposit taken. Failure to protect the deposit has harsh financial penalties. Firstly you will be ordered to pay the full deposit back to the tenants regardless of how long they have remaining on their contract. Also you will be ordered to pay compensation to the tenant at a rate of three times the value of the deposit.


Important Safety Requirements

Manage your property well and the risks to you as a landlord can be minimal, but manage the property badly and your risks are high.

Safety aspects come under criminal law - if a criminal offence is committed landlords can face a term in jail, a heavy fine, or both. In addition, there could be a liability to the tenant for civil damages - these can be substantial.

The following requirements are the responsibility of the owner (Landlord). Where we act for you on a Full Management service, they are also our responsibility. Therefore where we are managing we will need to ensure compliance.

Health and Safety - Gas

Annual safety check

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 (i.e. a Gas Safe registered gas installer).

Maintenance

There is a duty to ensure that all gas appliances, flues and associated pipework 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.

Health and Safety - Electrical

Under the Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 1994, and certain other regulations, electrical appliances and equipment provided in tenanted premises must be safe. It is therefore necessary to make a visual check to ensure that all electrical items, plugs and leads appear completely safe and undamaged, and remove or replace any faulty items.

There is no statutory requirement to have annual safety checks on electrical equipment as there is with gas, but it is advisable for landlords to have periodic checks (every five years) done by a qualified electrician

Consumer Protection - Fire

The Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations 1988 (amended 1989 & 1993) provide that specified items supplied in the course of letting the property must meet minimum fire resistance standards. The regulations apply to all upholstered furniture, beds, headboards and mattresses, sofa-beds, futons and other convertibles, nursery furniture, garden furniture suitable for use in a dwelling, scatter cushions, pillows and non-original covers for furniture. They do not apply to antique furniture or furniture made before 1950, bedcovers including duvets, loose covers for mattresses, pillowcases, curtains, carpets or sleeping bags.

Items which comply will have a suitable permanent label attached. Non-compliant items must be removed before a tenancy commences.

Smoke Alarms

All properties built since June 1992 must have been fitted with mains powered smoke detector alarms from new. Although there is no legislation requiring smoke alarms to be fitted in other ordinary tenanted properties, it is generally considered that the common law 'duty of care' means that Landlords and their Agents could be liable should a fire cause injury or damage in a tenanted property where smoke alarms are not fitted. We therefore strongly recommend that the Landlord fit at least one alarm on each floor (in the hall and landing areas).

If you have any questions then please do not hesitate to contact us and we will be glad to help

Business & Technology Centre. Bessemer Drive, Stevenage. SG1 2DX Company number 5672347
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