Advice for Landlords

In order to have a hassle-free let, it is important to choose your agent with care and to prepare your property for letting. First impressions do make a difference…

Rental valuation
Arrange for a rental assessment on the property and one of our branch managers or experienced negotiators will advise you on the current rental value of your property. You will need to decide by which date the property will be ready for letting as it is advisable to start marketing the property approximately six weeks in advance.

Instructing your agent
When you have decided to proceed with the letting of the property, we will agree our professional fees in advance depending on the level of service you require, i.e. letting service only, rent collection or full property management.

We understand that excellent presentation and maximum exposure play a key role in achieving the best possible rental income for our landlords. The property details, with digital photographs will be advertised on the internet, our website, with a ‘To Let’ board and within our local offices.

Preparing your property for viewings is very important. It should be presentable inside and outside. If the property is currently tenanted, then you will need to let them know that viewings will be taking place and the importance of keeping the property tidy.

Tenant checks
Once we have found suitable applicants who wish to take the property, we will go through the procedure of reference checks and present them to you for consideration.

Holding deposit
A holding deposit (equivalent of one week’s rent) will be taken from a prospective tenant to reserve the property. If the tenancy does not proceed, we will retain or return the deposit to the Tenant. (See information regarding reasons to retain the holding deposit). Should the tenancy proceed, this sum will form part of the first month’s rent. Any retained deposit will be paid to the Landlord less the charge for references etc.
(If the Applicant withdraws their application, fails the Right to Rent checks, provides false or misleading information or fails to sign the Tenancy Agreement within 15 calendar days, Deadline for Agreement, then the Holding Deposit will be retained.)

Tenancy set up fees
The charges for setting up a new tenancy are as follows:

£216 inclusive of VAT per Tenancy plus £90 (incl vat) per person for referencing and the preparation of the tenancy agreement. Guarantor reference fee is £90 (incl vat) per guarantor and a Company reference fee is £100 (incl vat). These will be deducted from the first month’s rent but we reserve the right to charge the Landlord upfront.

Boyce Thornton uses the services of a credit referencing agency to obtain references. They will carry out a detailed credit check of all prospective tenants comprising of a credit check, an employer’s reference, and a previous landlord’s reference where applicable. Copies of these references will be forwarded to you for approval.

Tenancy agreements
Unless instructed by you to the contrary, our standard form of tenancy agreement is used. However, with Company Tenants, they often require us to use their own tenancy agreement. We would point out that we are not solicitors and cannot offer you formal legal advice. We recommend that you consult your solicitor should you require further information on your legal position as a Landlord.

Assured shorthold tenancy
If your agreement is an Assured Shorthold Tenancy and you wish the tenancy to cease at the expiration of the Agreement, you must serve the requisite notice on a rent day at least two months before the expiration. If we are managing the property, you must advise us ninety days before the end of the Tenancy so that the pre-requisite notice can be served. After the initial term, the tenancy will automatically become a Periodic Tenancy and can be terminated by the tenant giving one month’s written notice and the landlord giving two months’ written notice unless a new tenancy is being issued.

Common law tenancy
A Common Law Tenancy is a tenancy not covered by the Housing Act 1988, i.e. from 1st October 2010 this is for rents in excess of £100,000 per annum or at a proportionate level for a shorter tenancy.

Tenancy renewal charges
In the event that the Landlord requires a renewal of Tenancy (Company Lets), the charges for the preparation of the new documents will be £180 (inclusive of vat).

Security deposit
This amount is five weeks rent or six weeks rent for properties where the rent exceeds £50,000 per annum. We hold the security deposit as stakeholder and must not release it without the written consent of both landlord and tenant, or on the order of the duly appointed arbiter. Boyce Thornton is a member of both the Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS) and redress scheme The Property Ombudsman (TPO).

Safety checks
a) Electrical equipment (Safety Regulations 1994) & (Part P Building Regulations January 2005)
These impose an obligation on the landlord to ensure that all electrical appliances are safe. We advise that all electrical equipment is checked annually by a qualified NIE EIC Engineer and the tenant is supplied with a safety certificate within 28 days of the check being carried out.
b) Electrical installation condition report – It is recommended that a periodic inspection and a test of the electrical installation should be carried out by a registered electrician at least every five years.
c) Smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors - From 1st October 2015, landlords have to ensure that a smoke alarm is fitted on every floor where there is a room used wholly or partly as living accommodation. A carbon monoxide alarm needs to be fitted in any room where solid fuel is burnt, such as coal or biomass and this includes open fires. Furthermore, we are advising that a carbon monoxide alarm is fitted where there is a gas or oil-fired boiler as this is due to become a legal requirement.

d) Gas equipment - Gas Safety (Installation & Use) Regulations 1998
These regulations provide that a landlord will maintain gas appliances in a safe condition and have them checked by a Gas Safe registered engineer to provide a safety certificate on an annual basis and to provide the tenant with a safety certificate within 28 days of the check being carried out.

e) Energy performance certificate (The Energy Performance of Buildings (Certificate and Inspection) Regulations 2007 SI 2007/991). As of 1st October 2008 an Energy Performance Certificate is required on any residential property to be marketed as a rental property. This certificate must be renewed every 10 years and the rating of the EPC cannot be less than an E rating.

f) Fire regulation (Furniture and Furnishings Fire Safety Amendment Regulations 1993)
These regulations provide that it is an offence to supply furniture which does not comply with the Act concerning fire resistance. It is therefore now industry norm that all tenancy agreements for furnished property will include a clause which states that the landlord warrants that all furnishings meet the provisions of this aforementioned legislation. (The only exception being period or antique furniture which pre dates 1950 and is therefore exempt from the requirements.)

Independent inventory clerks are used to prepare and check a detailed inventory of the property and contents at the commencement and termination of the tenancy and report to both parties accordingly. We can arrange for this if so instructed, but we cannot, however, be responsible for any error or omission on their part. Inventory fees (the make, check-in and checkout) are payable by the landlord and are not included in our commission; the inventory remains the property of the landlord and must be updated and freshly printed for each tenancy. At the termination of the tenancy the deductions, if any, to be made from the deposit are settled by mutual agreement between the landlord and tenant, according to the clerk's report.

Your property and contents should be comprehensively insured. You should inform your insurers of your intention to let the property as failure to do so may mean the refusal of any subsequent claim.

If the property is let subject to a mortgage, the terms of this mortgage will almost certainly prohibit letting of the property without the lender’s consent, and may prohibit letting of the property altogether. To avoid being in breach of the terms of your mortgage, you should, therefore, write to your lender to request consent to the proposed letting.

If your property is leasehold, you will need to ensure that:
a) Any intended furnished or unfurnished letting is permitted by the terms of your lease.
b) Any tenancy is for a period expiring prior to the termination of your lease.
c) The written permission of your landlord/freeholder, if necessary, is obtained for sub-letting.

Joint owners
If the property is owned by more than one person, it is essential that any joint owner's permission has been obtained and that all names appear on the Tenancy Agreement.

Generally, the tenant takes responsibility for the utilities, i.e. gas, electricity, water and council tax. We will arrange the meter readings and the transfer of utilities into the tenant’s name. It will be up to you to arrange the final accounts for the telephone and television.

Final preparations
It is money well spent to have the property professionally cleaned prior to the start of the tenancy. Also, ensure that the garden is tidy and the grass is cut. You will need to provide at least two sets of keys for the tenant and a set for the agent if the property is to be managed. Leave all the instruction manuals for the kitchen appliances in a folder in the property along with the internal door keys and window keys etc.

estate agent consulting with clients

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