When we meet new landlords and tenants, very often, the same questions are asked. We have compiled below the answers to these popular queries.
An Assured Shorthold Tenancy Agreement is usually drawn up for an initial six or twelve month period. If the fixed term is not renewed the tenancy will continue on a periodic basis which allows both parties a flexible end date: The landlord can give two months notice and the tenant one month. We ask you to read the contract carefully and are happy to answer any questions you may have.
We will prepare and ask both landlord and tenant to sign the contract either with our electronic Echosign account or a hardcopy and these will be exchanged with both parties receiving the copy signed by the other for safekeeping.
The Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA) is committed to providing the highest standards for the letting and management profession. Member agents are qualified in Landlord and Tenant Law and are up-to-date with the latest case law and market developments.
You are also protecting your money with their Client Money Protection Scheme and Professional Indemnity Insurance.
The amount of deposit required is normally a minimum of one month's rent and a maximum of six weeks rent, payable in cleared funds on the day of move in. The deposit amount will be stated as part of the property description.
All deposits are held with The Deposit Protection Service (DPS). Tenants receive notification from the DPS after move in. At the end of the tenancy any dilapidations need to be agreed between the tenant and the landlord then the deposit is returned in accordance with the terms and conditions of the DPS.
An inventory will be taken, which will itemise the condition of the property including the furniture, fixtures and fittings which remain at the property. We will ask you to read through and sign this on your move in day.
You will then have seven days in which to check the inventory for accuracy. Should there be any discrepancies then simply write the adjustments on and return it to the nearest office. If we do not receive any adjustments within seven days, it will be considered accurate, and will form part of your Tenancy Agreement. The inventory is re-checked at the end of your tenancy and can determine the balance of the deposit being returned to you.
Usually, the tenant is responsible to pay all bills on top of the rent. If any bills are included, this will be stated as part of the property description. As your letting agent, we will carry out the account changeovers and collect meter readings
It is the responsibility of the landlord to insure the bricks and mortar of the property and his/her own contents. Even if the property is unfurnished, the landlord will need to take out contents insurance for carpets and curtains.
The tenant only insures their contents and cannot claim off the landlord's insurance. Accidental damage insurance is recommended. After all, we all have accidents.
A good energy rating is becoming more important for Buy to Let investors and tenants when choosing a property. An EPC is now required by law and will include a recommendation report which will list improvements to increase the rating. Further restrictions on properties with ratings below an E are due to be implemented in 2016 and 2018.
Tenants look for a good rating to ensure low heating bills and investors will need to look at the cost of improvements required such as loft insulation, double glazing and heating systems.
Most damp problems we come across are caused by condensation, although some is caused by leaking pipes, water ingress or rising damp. Condensation occurs mainly during cold weather where a property is not ventilated or heated sufficiently. The mould grows on walls and furniture and does not leave a tidemark and can be removed with a fungicidal wash. It can be easily managed by heating the property a little more, keeping windows ajar and not drying clothes inside.
A burst pipe, serious electrical fault, gas leak or no form of heating in mid-winter with sub-zero temperatures. We provide in-going tenants with a list of preferred contractors in the event of an emergency out of office hours.
You will be aware of further legislation affecting landlords is coming into force from 1st April 2018 and again in April 2020.
What is happening?
1st April 2018
Properties with new tenancies and fixed term tenancies (where the fixed term ends after 1st April 2018) will need to have an EPC rating of E or above.
1st April 2020
Properties with periodic tenancies and that have an EPC will need to be rated E or above. There is some indication that the banding boundaries may change to bring in more properties.
Properties without an EPC (because they had been let continuously to the same tenant since before the EPC regulations came into effect in 2008) will not be caught by the regulations for the moment.
Landlords, not their agents, can be fined by the local council for non-compliance with a fine of up to £2000 before three months and £4000 after three months if the rating is an F or a G.
EPC’s need to be looked at again - the guidelines for EPC assessors were relaxed in 2012 and 2014 and will be changed again on 8th November, with new advantageous rules introduced for old solid wall constructions. If any of your properties fall into this category we recommend that the old EPC should be reassessed after 8th November and only if it still fails, should necessary heating or insulation works be carried out.