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Landlords FAQ's

Thank you for taking the time to have a look at our FAQ. Below we have compiled the most common questions and answers for landlords. If you have any questions or would like more information about anything you see please get in touch with us on 023 9246 7271

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Do I need permission before I rent out my home?

If the property is subject to a mortgage, consent is normally required from the lender. Also if you are not the freehold owner of the property, permission is usually required from the freeholder. You should deal with this before instructing us to let your property.

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How long should I let for?

All our tenancies are Assured Shorthold Tenancy agreements for a minimum period of 6 months, but can be longer and up to 3 years subject to negotiation.

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EPC. Energy Performance Certificate.

From October the 1st 2008 any property being marketed for let must have an Energy Performance Certificate. The document must form part of the marketing material. HPM Estate & Letting Agents can organise this for you. To see an example, Click Here.

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Furnished or Unfurnished?

You must ensure that any soft furnishings you supply comply with current fire safety regulations. The general standard for furnished property is: White Goods: Cooker, Microwave, Fridge/Freezer, Washing machine

Furniture: Bed(s) and Wardrobes. Chairs and Sofa. Dining Room/Kitchen table and chairs.

Accessories: Utensils, kettle, toaster, mattresses, vacuum cleaner etc

Windows: Blinds or curtains

It is not advisable to leave effects which may be expensive or have sentimental value. More information is contained within our Management Guide and further advice will be given at the appraisal on the benefits of letting UNFURNISHED.

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What about furniture and furnishing safety?

The Furniture and Furnishings Fire Safety Regulations 1988 (as amended 1993) requires that all furniture in rented properties must meet the standard. Of particular concern is foam filled or upholstered furniture manufactured between 1950 and 1988. Furniture manufactured before 1950 is exempt and may remain in the property but any other soft furnishings; bedding etc left on the premises should be appropriately labelled.

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What about gas safety?

The Gas Safety - Installation & Use Regulations 1994 (as amended) require all landlords to ensure that all gas appliances or installation pipe work are maintained in a safe condition and that they are inspected annually by an approved GAS SAFE (formally CORGI) contractor. There are requirements for keeping records and issuing certificates to tenants. All tenants must receive the Landlord Gas Safety Certificate at the beginning of a tenancy. This is required in addition to any servicing arrangement which you ay make. We can arrange for the gas safety inspection on your behalf. More information is contained within our Management Guide

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What about electricity safety?

Landlords have a duty to ensure that electrical equipment is safe. There are several pieces of legislation affecting the safety of electrical equipment, including the Low Voltage Electrical Equipment Regulations 1989, the Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 1994, the General Product Safety Regulations 1994 and the Plugs and Sockets (Safety Regulations) 1994.

In addition we do recommend the installation of smoke detectors

Product Safety Regulations

These regulations outline the Landlords responsibility to show due care and attention pertaining to general safety of tenants in their property. For example, the landlord should supply instruction manuals to items used in property, (e.g. boilers, cookers, vacuums, white goods). In addition, information sheet(s) covering any issues about potential hazards in the property should be supplied, (e.g. garbage disposal, hot surfaces on induction cookers). There is no legal requirement to engage the services of a qualified electrician, however, we as agents require a Certificate of Inspection by an NIC EIC Approved Contractor to be held at our office.

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What happens with tenant deposits?

New laws were brought in 2007 to assist tenants in the return of their deposits from unscrupulous landlords and indeed agents too. The law applies to Assured Shorthold Tenancies (ASTs) created on or after 6th April 2007 in England and Wales (currently, there is no requirement to protect deposits for tenancies in Scotland). If the tenancy started on or after 6 April 2007, the Tenant's deposit must be protected in one of the government-approved schemes. If a deposit is not protected, the Landlords will be breaking the law. S/he will be unable to regain possession of the property using notice-only grounds for possession under Section 21 of the Housing Act 1988.

The Tenant can apply for a court order requiring the deposit to be protected, or for the Prescribed information to be given to them. If the court finds that the Landlord has failed to comply with these requirements, or that the deposit is not being held in accordance with an authorised scheme, the court must either:

A: Order the landlord to repay the deposit within 14 days of the issuing of the court order, or

B: Order the landlord to pay the deposit into the designated account held by the custodial scheme administrator.

C: The court must also order the Landlord to pay to the Tenant (or person who paid the deposit on his/her behalf) an amount equivalent to three times the deposit amount within 14 days of the making of the order.

How does this work?

The deposit is paid by the Tenant to ourselves as agent for the Landlord. We retain the deposit in a protected client deposit account and register the deposit under the government approved Tenancy Deposit Scheme. The scheme will provide a Deposit Protection Certificate which is given to the Tenant to check and sign within 10 days of receiving the deposit. At the end of the tenancy period, the property will be inspected for any loss or damage and we will agree with the Tenant how much of the deposit will be returned to the tenant. Within 10 days of agreeing a figure, or within 10 days of the tenant requesting payment of the deposit, the landlord (or their agent) must return the agreed amount to the tenant. The landlord then notifies the scheme to unprotect the deposit and notify the tenant. If there is a dispute, the Tenancy Deposit Scheme will provide arbitration in the form of Alternative Dispute Resolution.

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Who is responsible for repairs?

The Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 section 11 (as amended by section 116 of the Housing Act 1988) requires the landlord to keep in repair the structure and exterior of the property together with installations for supply of water, gas, electricity and sanitation, and to keep in proper working order installations for space and water heating. More information is contained within our Management Guide

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Do I need to insure the building and contents?

Landlords are normally responsible for insuring the property and we would recommend landlords also insure their contents if furnished. We can arrange a policy specifically designed for rented properties.

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How long does it take to find a suitable tenant?

According to market demand and the desirability of your property, it can be anything from between a few hours to several weeks. At HPM Estate & Letting Agents we are able to maximise the speed of letting due to our computerised systems that match properties to potential tenants and inform them by email. We also undertake all the usual marketing in local publications and on the internet.

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How do I vet a potential tenant?

We will do this for you, by credit searching, vetting & fully referencing all tenants through our nominated independent referencing company

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What is an assured shorthold tenancy?

An Assured Shorthold Tenancy offers the landlord a guaranteed right of repossession of his property at the end of the term. It also sets down rental payment details and who will pay for council tax, water, electricity and other bills etc etc.

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Would it not be cheaper to do this all myself?

There are many other things you will need to take care of if you do let privately. For example, you will need to advertise your property and find time to answer calls, be available for viewings, vet tenants, get references and draw up contracts. A letting agent can take this burden off your mind, manage the property on your behalf and give you advice on all aspects of the property rental process. We have access to credit referencing agencies that enable us to check the tenant can afford the rent and does not have a history of defaulting on payments. We also offer insurance guarantee to safeguard your rental income, check that rent is paid on time, and deal with maintenance and tenant enquiries.

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Do I need to pay income tax?

This will depend upon your personal circumstances but income from property in the UK must be declared to the Inland Revenue. If the landlord is resident overseas the agent may be taxed but we can advise on how you can receive rent without us having to pay tax on your behalf. Landlords can claim personal allowances against income from property and husbands and wives may decide to opt for separate taxation. Expenditure incurred in connection with letting can be offset against income and a wear and tear allowance may be granted in the case of furnished properties. We would strongly recommend that landlords take independent financial advice in connection with your tax affairs.

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DISCLAIMER

This Guide has been prepared by HPM Estate & Letting Agents. All advice is offered in good faith, and readers who choose to act upon it do so at their own risk. HPM Estate & Letting Agents accept no responsibility for any action taken, or loss occurring as a result of any advice/information given here. Links and reference to other websites are for information only, and as such HPM Estate & Letting Agents do not accept responsibility for their content. For a full understanding of what we undertake our Terms and Conditions of Business are available by booking an appraisal of your property. Contact Us