Step-by-step guide to letting a property
Accurate market appraisal
Having confidence in your estate agent is vital. We make a point of studying property values in our areas very closely. Our Manager/Director are highly knowledgeable and conduct market appraisals each week. We always provide evidence on how we have arrived at an appraisal, which is based on our extensive local knowledge and examples of what has recently been let in the area.
Choosing the right agent
The right agent will make a difference to how you enjoy the experience of renting your property. Tates have jargon-free plain language terms and conditions. We give you feedback and advice weekly. We regularly review the marketing of your property and the progress of the let with you personally. Our job is to find the right tenant and to protect your interests. We are members of ARLA, Association of Residential Letting Agents and the Property Ombudsman scheme.
Presenting your property
- Ideally keep all walls painted in a light, neutral colour. A new coat of paint prior to marketing the flat will always help it to look fresh and welcoming.
- Flooring – carpets should be a neutral colour throughout. Wooden or high quality laminate floors are also a good option as they are durable, easy to clean and popular with tenants.
- Common Hallways – if possible try to keep these clean and tidy as first impressions are always important.
- If there is a garden try to keep it cut back and in seasonal condition.
- Try to keep clutter to a minimum in order to make the room seem as spacious as possible.
- Make beds up fully, even if you are not planning on including the linen with the property.
- Ensure all lights are working so that the flat/house looks as light as possible. If it is winter, make sure the heating is set to come on twice a day as a cold flat is off-putting.
Furniture and Fittings
- If the property is going to be marketed as ‘fully furnished’ it would usually need to include:
- Bedroom furniture – beds, wardrobes, chest of drawers.
- Sitting/dining room furniture – sofa, armchair, dining table and chairs.
- White goods and a set of crockery, cutlery and basic kitchen appliances (e.g. toaster, kettle). A large fridge/freezer is always preferable along with a washer/dryer rather than just a washing machine.
- A vacuum cleaner (if there are any carpets).
- If the property is marketed as unfurnished you would need to provide all white goods and curtains/blinds.
- Where possible make sure there is an overhead shower in the bathroom as this alone will influence a potential tenant’s decision making.
- Bedrooms need to have ample cupboard and drawer space.
Marketing your property
Your property will appear both in onlilne and offline marketing. Our new website appears on Rightmove, Primelocation and FindaProperty amongst others, Globrix, Zoopla to name just a few. We make it easy for buyers to see the benefits of your property with extra large photos, school catchment area information and helpful street views.
We will prepare particulars, arrange photos to be taken and when required arrange an Energy Performance Certificate.
Energy Performance Certificates
New legislation introduced on 1st October 2008 requires all rental properties to have an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) prior to the property being marketed. Tates will be happy to arrange an EPC on the Landlords behalf.
An EPC advises tenants about the energy performance of a building and the certificate resembles the certificates now provided with domestic appliances such as refrigerators and washing machines. This information should be provided to all prospective tenants.
All EPC’s come with a recommendation report and will advise on improvements a Landlord could make to save money and energy. An EPC report is valid for 10 years. There is a penalty for any property that is being advertised after the 1st October 2008 and does not have an EPC. Please visit the Communities and Local Government Website: www.communites.gov.uk/epbd
As and when Tates have applicants interested in viewing your premises we will accompany these people to your premises with keys provided by you, or arrange a mutually convenient appointment for them and us to meet you or your current tenant at the premises.
Receiving an offer
When we receive an offer will put this offer to you and guide you through any decision making that may be necessary. The offer will be confirmed in writing. Once an offer has been accepted, it is subject to contract and satisfactory references all of which will require your approval.
When an applicant has put an offer on your property, Tates will take up references using an independent Referencing Company and wherever possible they will obtain a credit reference report checking their financial standing, income and employment and contact the previous landlord (if appropriate). If the applicant passes the referencing procedure the references will be forwarded to you for approval. Once we have your written confirmation we will proceed with the let.
Proceeding with the let
The following will be required to be carried out before the commencement of the tenancy. Tates can provide quotes and organise on the Landlords behalf:
- Gas Safety Certificate
- Professional clean
For an Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST) Tates will provide you with a comprehensive ARLA Tenancy Agreement. There will be a separate charge of £120.00 inclusive of VAT for completing and drafting the Tenancy Agreement. Tates will only use an ARLA Tenancy Agreement for all Assured Shorthold Tenancies.
For Non-Housing Contracts should a Landlord wish to use a Tenancy Agreement drafted by his own solicitor, Tates must be supplied with a draft at least 2 weeks before the tenancy is due to commence. Tates advise tenants to seek independent legal advice regarding the contents of such an agreement.
One set of keys will be required for each tenant. If Tates manage the property we will require a set of keys.
Tates hold the deposit usually in the capacity as stakeholder, throughout the term of your tenancy. The deposit will be registered with a Tenancy Deposit Scheme and you will be provided with information of the scheme and a copy of the registration document. This deposit is held in a separate client account and is refundable to you at the end of the tenancy once any deductions for damage or default have been established and agreed between the landlord and tenant.
Tates, unless otherwise requested, will organise for an independent inventory clerk at the start of the tenancy to check the contents and decorative condition of the property. The tenant and landlord will receive a copy of this report to sign and approve. At the end of the tenancy, this document will be checked against the actual state of the property after the tenancy and any discrepancies will be highlighted in the Checkout report. This report will be sent to the tenant and landlord to agree any dilapidations that may be recorded. The landlord pays for the inventory check at the beginning of the tenancy and the tenant pays for the check out report at the end of the tenancy. Under the terms of stakeholding, no funds can be released to either party without the other’s consent. Tates will require written consent from the landlord and tenant to release the deposit.
Should the situation arise where there is a dispute and agreement cannot be reached and the deposit is held in a Tenancy Deposit Scheme then the landlord and tenant will be able to apply to the Tenancy Deposit Scheme in order to conclude the return of the deposit. Further information on The Dispute Service can be found at www.thedisputeservice.co.uk
Client Money Protection
Under the Client Money Protection regulations, we are required to have our Client Money Handling Procedures on our website. As a Propertymark Protected firm, our Client Money Handling Procedures are covered in the Conduct and Membership Rules. The Rules are available here
Furniture and Furnishings
- The furniture and furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations 1997 requires that the cover fabric and filling material of the upholstered furniture be made of fire-resistant material and be able to pass the “smouldering cigarette” and “match flame” resistance test and carry a label confirming this.
- Most furniture made after 1990 are compliant with these regulations and have the appropriate labels permanently affixed to them.
- The regulations apply to all soft furnishings:
- Sofas and armchairs.
- Cushions, seat pads, bean bags.
- Beds, padded headboards, mattresses, pillows.
- Convertible sofa beds, futons.
- Loose and stretch covers for upholstered furniture.
- Nursery furniture, garden furniture suitable for outdoor use.
- Items of furniture which are exempt from the regulations include:
- Antique furniture or furniture made prior to 1950.
- Carpets and curtains.
- Pillowcases, duvets, bed linen.
- Loose covers for mattresses.
- Any item which does not comply should be removed from the property prior to the commencement of a tenancy.
It is a criminal offence to let a premise with gas appliances, installation and pipe-work that have not been checked by a Gas Safe Registered Engineer. No tenancy can commence until Tates are in receipt of a valid Gas Safety Certificate.
- The Gas Safety Regulations Act 1994 applies to all gas appliances and equipment including mains, propane or calor gas. It requires that:
- The landlord of the property must have a gas safety certificate carried out prior to the commencement of the tenancy by a Gas Safe Registered Engineer qualified to work on their own type of appliances/systems.
- A copy of the gas certificate must be given to the tenant.
- The check will relate to:
- Adequate ventilation and flues
- Operating pressures
- Heat output
- Flame combustion
- Escape of gas or dangerous fumes
- Obvious defects
- Where appropriate, the provision of adequate instructions for use of equipment or appliances
Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarms
In October 2015 new regulations will come in to force and all Landlords will be required by law to install working smoke and carbon monoxide alarms as covered in section 150 of the Energy Act 2013.
The Landlord has an obligation to ensure that any such items are supplied as part of a property letting are “safe”, not dangerous and comply with the Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 1994.
The landlord is responsible for providing instruction books for all items of electrical equipment and for ensuring that all electrical appliances within the premises comply with the above regulations. The landlord should also ensure that all electrical installations are safe and have been checked regularly.
Equipment or wiring which is deemed to be unsafe includes defects such as:
• Badly frayed or damaged insulation
• Old or exposed wires, poorly fitted or cracked plugs
• Scorch marked or badly damaged sockets
• Plugs without sleeved insulated pins
Anything which is identified as being potentially unsafe should be replaced immediately with equipment which complies with BS and EC standards.
Other regulations to be considered
- Head Lessor – if you have a leasehold property it is likely that your head lease will require you to obtain permission from the head lessor to sub-let the property. In relation to some developments in West Kensington and the surrounding area you need to apply for a licence to sub-let with Tates are able to do on your behalf.
- Mortgage Lender – Consent is often required for your mortgage lender if you plan to let out your property.
- Insurance Provider – It is essential that the Premises and contents included in the Inventory and Schedule of Condition are adequately insured and that your insurers are aware that the premises are let. Failure to do so may invalidate your insurance. You must inform your insurers whenever the premises remain vacant for a period greater than specified in your insurance policy. You should also check that your insurance policies include third party liability to protect you in the event that a tenant or a visitor to the premises sues for personal injury.
You will be liable for tax on rental income and you must inform the Inland Revenue that you are letting the premises. There are a number of allowances that you can claim against this rental income. You should seek advice on these allowances from your accountant or from the Inland Revenue website which can be accessed on www.hmrc.gov.uk.
You must also keep all your invoices for six years for tax purposes. You should also be aware that Tates forward a form to the Inland Revenue annually detailing all Landlords whose property we have let regardless of the country of residence of that Landlord.
Taxation for Overseas Landlords
The Inland Revenue has special rules regarding the collection of tax on rental income if you are a Landlord who is resident overseas, or you subsequently move abroad. If you fall into this category it is your responsibility to obtain a tax approval number from the Inland Revenue. The relevant form and guidance notes can be downloaded from the above website. Until that approval number is given to us by the Inland Revenue Tates are legally obliged to deduct tax from your rental income at the prevailing rate which is currently 20%. This money is forwarded to the Inland Revenue on a quarterly basis. If the tenant pays you direct and he has not received approval from the Inland Revenue to pay the rent gross he must deduct tax and forward that to the Inland Revenue on your behalf. No person is exempt from this scheme.
Towards the end of the initial fixed term Tates will contact you to find out if the tenancy should be renewed and to agree any renewal instructions. Tates will review the rent and advise you if a rent increase is possible or desirable depending upon current market conditions. You must confirm to us in writing if you wish the tenancy to be renewed or notice served. Tates do not serve notice on the tenant unless you instruct Tates to do so in writing.