Landlord Guide / FAQ
Once you have your property to let, it is worth remembering that it could take several weeks for a suitable tenant to be found.
Preparing your property for let
There are several issues to consider before you are able to put your property on the market for let.
Choosing an agent
Once you have decided to let your property you may decide to employ a letting agent to put your property on the market.
Marketing your property
A letting agent will discuss the best way to let your property and the rental income to expect from the let. You will need to sign a contract with the letting agent marketing your property.
Agreeing the let
Once you have found suitable tenants for the property, you will have to agree the terms of their let which will involve some negotiation. On agreement, it is highly recommended that formal documentation be signed between the landlord and tenant setting out the terms and conditions of the let.
Preparing your property for let
Whether you have let a property before, or this is the first time, when you let a home there is a lot to think about:
What is an Assured Shorthold Tenancy and when should I use it?
If the rent on the property is less than £25,000 per year and you rent your property to private individuals, the tenancy automatically becomes an Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST). An AST usually lasts for 6 to 12 months, unless you agree a fixed term for the tenancy in advance with your tenant.
When the fixed term of the tenancy has expired the landlord is able to gain back possession of the property provided they give two months written notice to the tenant. In addition, if the tenant owes at least 2 months or 8 weeks rent on the property you can apply through the court to seek a possession order.
Will the deposit be covered by the Tenancy Deposit Protection?
Under new legislation you are advised to ensure that your property is covered for Tenancy Deposit Protection, which will require all deposits to be covered under a scheme from 6 April 2007.
What are the health and safety requirements?
Before you let your property you must make sure by law that it and its contents comply with various safety regulations, including:
- Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations 1988, as amended 1993
- Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998
- Smoke Detectors Act 1991
- Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 1994.
Landlords are required to produce certificates meeting these regulations where appropriate and should ensure that a Portable Appliances Testing (PAT) for all electrical appliances is undertaken.
Other considerations before letting your property in addition to all of the above, you will also need to make sure you have:
An agreed inventory of all items left in the property and a property condition report
Obtained permission from your mortgage lender (if you have a mortgage on your property) or told your freeholder
Advised your insurers and highlighted what items within the property you will be insuring and those that will fall to the tenants to insure.
Choosing a letting agent
You can advertise and manage your property yourself, but it can be a lot of worry and hassle. Many landlords use an agent to market / or manage their property. Make sure you get written confirmation of the agent’s terms, conditions and costs for acting on your behalf before signing anything.
Most tenants look for properties through letting agents. In general, a letting agent will:
- Advise on the right length of tenancy and rent to charge
- Advise whether to let out your property unfurnished, partially furnished or furnished
- Promote your property to potential tenants
- Handle the letting process
- Prepare the tenancy agreement.
Marketing your property
Once you have your property ready and if you have employed a letting agent to undertake the letting for you, they will discuss the best way to let your property, whether this be to multiple or single tenants.
The letting agent will also discuss the rent to expect from the let, taking into consideration the type of property, age and the fixtures and fittings to be included in the let.
The letting agent will offer advice on the best way to find tenants for your property and will advertise the property on your behalf in order to find suitable tenants. The agent will undertake the viewings and ensure that the property is let.
If you employ an agent to undertake the letting, you will need to sign an agreement with them which outlines their charges and the length of the contract. It is important that you understand the contract before you sign as you don’t want to sign into a lengthy tie-in.
Agreeing the let
Once you have found suitable tenants for your property you will need to agree the terms and conditions of the let with them. Essentially, it is at this point that you must determine who is responsible for what. Who looks after the property and its tenancy will depend on the terms of the tenancy agreement you have. But here are a few of the more usual responsibilities:
Landlord’s responsibility to:
- Repair the property
- Pay the building insurance
- Pay any ground rent and service charge where applicable
- Insure any items, such as furniture and kitchen equipment included in the property
- Not discriminate on the grounds of sex, race, sexual orientation, age, religion, marital status or disability
Letting agent’s responsibility to:
Get written references for the prospective tenant. Usually these include:
- Credit referencing check
- Current and previous employer(s) to confirm both if the tenant is a permanent employee, and their salary
- Current and previous landlord(s) to confirm whether the rent was paid on time, is not outstanding and that the property was kept in good condition
- Obtain Photographic ID and conduct Right to Rent checks
- Where needed, guarantor’s references
- Ensure an Assured Shorthold Agreement (where appropriate) is completed
- Obtain the necessary deposit and initial rent
- Complete the inventory checks on the property.
Tenant’s responsibility to:
- Pay the rent and deposit
- Pay or make a contribution towards the bills, as well as any other costs agreed and stated clearly in the tenancy agreement
- Responsibility for Council Tax, water rates, gas, electricity, telephone charges, television licence fee, etc
- Return the property to you at the end of the tenancy in the same condition as at the start of the tenancy allowing for fair wear and tear.
Here’s a brief summary of the various costs to consider when letting your property:
Gas and electrical testing
You will need to ensure that you have tested all gas and electrical appliances to ensure they comply with current safety standards. This will need to be undertaken by a qualified professional and there will be charges made for this service.
Our partners Mortgage Advice Bureau work with Legal & General to provide you with buildings insurance for your buy-to-let property, designed to give you peace of mind at every stage of your life, from buying your first property to expanding your portfolio.
You will be insured against loss or damage to your buildings from many causes, including but not limited to:
- Fire, smoke, explosion, lightning or earthquake
- Malicious acts or vandalism
- Storm or flood
- Subsidence, heave or landslip
- Theft or attempted theft
- Escape of water
- Falling trees
The insurance will also cover your legal liability to third parties up to £2 million and can be extended to cover accidental damage, legal expenses and rent guarantee (this option covers unpaid rent for up to a year whilst trying to gain vacant possession). Conditions and exclusions apply, full details are available on request.
Letting agent’s fees
There are likely to be fees incurred for employing an agent to undertake the administration and management of your property. Charges vary from one agent to another, so it’s worth checking on fees in your area.
Repairs and maintenance
Any repairs or maintenance that is required on the property will need to be paid for by the landlord.
You may have to put some of your furniture and furnishings in storage if the tenant brings his/her own belongings. The costs of storage will need to be covered by the landlord.
Landlords are liable to pay tax on gross income received from rent. Further information can be obtained from the Tax Office.
Can I manage my property myself?
You certainly can however many Landlords under-estimate the amount of time and skill that is required to manage a property and Tenant well. For just a slightly higher fee than the Letting Service, we can handle virtually every aspect and provide a useful buffer between you and your Tenant. You still make all the decisions, but we do all the work for you. Many major employers and Relocation Agents will only take on properties that are managed by a reputable Letting Agent.
Why choose Peter Heron Estate Agents to let my property?
Every Landlord knows that each day’s property rental void (the property standing empty) is lost revenue. For this reason we have a proactive team dedicated to matching properties to rent to tenants wishing to find a property to reduce rental voids.
- Professional Service - Our business is structured to meet your demands. You expect a first class service, efficiency and results. We're committed to delivering results.
- Accurate valuations - Peter Heron Valuers have unparalleled knowledge of the property market in your area.
- Registered Tenants
- The moment you list your property with us Text/Email alerts are sent to tenants looking for your type of property - When letting your home the key task for your estate agent is to tell as many people about your property as quickly as possible.
- Hourly updated website displaying your property
- Attractive rental property details with full colour photographs and room dimensions - We understand that presenting your property well is key to achieving good results. We are dedicated to presenting every single property at its very best, regardless of price.
- To Let Board erected within 24 hours
- Accompanied Viewings 7 days a week - We provide a personal service. We can accompany all viewings and chauffeur tenants to your door.
- Property Management - After finding you a tenant we look after them and you throughout the tenancy. That includes everything from collecting rent and handling all administration, to assistance with more complex issues
- Access to discounted Landlord and Tenant Insurances
- Members of the Tenancy Deposit Scheme
- Members of the Association of Residential Letting Agents
- Members of the Association of Professional Inventory Providers
Free 24 hour internet advertising
- www.peterheron.co.uk (includes 3D floor plans)
Can I have my property rental payments made directly into my bank account?
Of course! We pay property rent collected on behalf of landlords whose properties are managed directly into their bank accounts so there is no delay in them obtaining their rental funds or inconvenience in paying them in at a bank.
What about Compliance with safety regulations?
As a landlord, you have an obligation to ensure that your property complies with all the necessary regulations covering the safety of gas appliances, electrical installations and any furnishings supplied for the tenancy. We can advise you on this and arrange the necessary inspections.
Are tenants referenced?
Yes, once a suitable tenant has been found, we will apply a rigorous reference procedure on your behalf. If the tenant proves to be acceptable, we then proceed to the next stage.
Will you provide a tenancy agreement?
Yes, we will draw up the relevant paperwork forming an agreement which is signed by both parties.
Will you accompany tenants to view the property?
Our staff know all our properties and are able to describe them in detail. We provide a personal service. We can accompany all viewings and chauffeur tenants to your door 7 days a week. Once at the property they are able to clarify a prospective tenant's requirements in more detail. Care and attention to the tenants requirements helps to ensure that properties are let quickly and that tenants are happy with the property that they rent and the process runs as smoothly as possible.
Do you check the tenant in and out of the property?
Yes,this is a procedure that is carried out when a tenant first moves in and indeed out of the property. At this point the property is checked thoroughly with the tenant and an inventory of the contents is checked. We always accompany tenants at the start and end of the tenancy. The inventory is checked in detail. The contents and presentation of the property is checked, meter readings are taken, the tenant is taken through any issues relating to appliances etc. At the end of this process the tenant will sign the inventory and agree the condition of the property and its contents.
What happens if the tenant doesn't pay the rent?
As part of our service, we endeavour to ensure that the rent is paid on time. Having carefully selected the tenant in the first place, there's unlikely to be a problem. However people's circumstances do sometimes change during a tenancy and if the rent is not paid, we'll advise you on the appropriate course of action. You can insure yourself against loss of rent and legal expenses.
We recommend you take our Landlord Insurance: this will protect your income against lost revenue due to any of the following circumstances:
- Tenant becoming bankrupt and unable to pay rent arrears
- Tenant vacating the property without notice and disappearing without paying rent
- Tenant becoming unemployed, relationship breakdown or long term sickness causing them to be unable to pay the rent
Do I have to provide furniture?
No. Interestingly enough, in most cases we have found that there is very little difference in rental values between furnished and unfurnished lettings. Our staff will advise you on the most appropriate option for your property. An unfurnished property would require carpets, curtains and usually white goods. The requirements for a furnished property can vary depending upon the style and location of your property.
Are smoke alarms required?
Smoke alarms have to be installed in any new building or conversion. We would strongly recommend that you install at least one alarm per floor of your property.
What am I responsible for repairing?
As a Landlord you have a legal obligation under the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 to maintain the structure of the building, the sanitation and the supply of services. In addition, should an item in the property require replacing or repairing through fair wear and tear then you would be expected within the terms of the Tenancy Agreement to deal with this.