Landlords Guide
Inventory | Property Inspections | Legal Matters | Gas Regulations | Electricity Regulations | Fire Safety

NATHAN JAMES is an independent partnership of experienced Estate and Letting Agents, with over 40 years involvement in all aspects of property management, operating to National Industry standards.

This document outlines the services of our specialist Lettings Department and provides information for the prospective Landlord.

Our business is dedicated to managing your property, as if it were our own.

This guide is intended to give you an overview of the things you need to consider before letting your property.
PLEASE BE REASSURED THAT NATHAN JAMES ARE HAPPY TO HELP YOU WITH ALL OF THESE MATTERS.
Please contact us for more details as to how we can assist and make letting your property as stress free as possible.
THE LETTINGS PROCESS

• All prospective tenants are interviewed - this is where the experience of our staff comes into play and prospective tenants can be rejected at this stage.
• We always carry out accompanied viewings on your property.
• An application form is completed and again this document can provide valuable information as to whether or not the interviewee is a suitable tenant.
• References are obtained from at least two sources, including bank and employer, if appropriate.
• If all the information and interview suggests that the applicant would make a suitable tenant then you, as the property owner, are briefed with our recommendations to proceed.
The final decision is always yours.
• An Assured Shorthold Tenancy agreement is drawn up and signed by both the tenant and Nathan James (on your behalf)
• Our previous inspection of the property will confirm that it meets all the legal requirementse.g. Gas Safety Certificate etc.

We will collect the first month’s rent and deposit.
As required by the Housing Act, deposits now have to be lodged under a government recognised Deposit Protection Scheme, which protects both you and the Tenant.
• One of our team will then arrange to ‘see the tenant in’ to explain where all the services are, and how the heating works etc.
• Occasionally at the end of the tenancy, disputes may arise between Landlord and outgoing Tenant with regard to damage, cleaning and missing furniture or equipment. Disputes that cannot be resolved informally between Landlord and Tenant now have to be referred to The Dispute Service and the respective claims must be supported by written and/or photographic evidence.

INVENTORY


The most essential Document is the ’Schedule of Condition and Inventory’ (Inventory).
This document records the condition of the property and it’s contents at the time the Tenant takes possession and is signed by the Tenant.
At the end of the Tenancy the inventory is checked and defects noted. This itself is usually sufficient to avoid potential disputes materialising.
NATHAN JAMES will therefore require an inventory to be prepared and whilst you are of course free to complete your own inventory; we strongly recommend that a specialist inventory clerk prepare it.
The very independence of the inventory clerk can also assist should a dispute arise. Experience has shown that it is not worth holding a deposit if an inventory has not been prepared, since a deduction from the deposit would be difficult to justify without an inventory.
Landlords must remember that occupancy of their property by tenants will result in general wear and tear to the property and a ‘fair wear and tear’ adjustment must be made to any deposit deduction.
We are able to offer the services of a specialist inventory clerk and fees for this service will depend on the work involved.
For the majority of properties the cost will be in the region of £65 to £140, depending on the size of the property, whether it is furnished or unfurnished and it’s location.

PROPERTY INSPECTIONS

An essential part of the managed service we provide is a quarterly visit to the property.
One of our Property Consultants will inspect the property to ensure that the tenant is abiding by the conditions of the Tenancy Agreement.
This service has a three fold effect
• Firstly as the Landlord you receive an early warning if a tenant is mistreating the property or has problems that might cause difficulties in the near future.
• Secondly if a Tenant has failed to formally notify us of a problem, it provides an opportunity for the Tenant to raise these matters face to face
• Thirdly the Tenant is very much aware that monitoring is taking place. As you will have noted from the above the letting process is complex and contains numerous pitfalls.
We have to confess that on occasions despite all our procedures and best intentions, circumstances occur that can give rise to problems between Landlord and Tenant.
Examples include relationship breakdown, redundancy and long-term illness causing Tenants to get into rent arrears.
We believe that by maintaining good contact with our Tenants we can assist in managing potential problems to achieve acceptable results/solutions for all parties.
LEGAL MATTERS….

As a Landlord you have an obligation to provide a safe/secure property for a Tenant and as with most things in modern day life there are several pieces of legislation in place that every landlord must be aware of and must comply with and the most common of these are:-

GAS SAFETY (Installation and Use) REGULATIONS 1998.

All gas appliances, equipment and pipe work must comply with these Regulations, which require an annual inspection by a Gas Safe Register approved engineer with copies of the certificate being retained by the tenant, landlord and the landlord’s agent. The safety inspection must be completed before the tenant is given access to the property and a copy of the report must be displayed in the property or given to the tenant within 28 days of each inspection. Records must be kept for a minimum of two years from the date of the inspection. Failure to comply with these regulations could result in a fine or imprisonment.

THE ELECTRICAL EQUIPMENT (Safety) REGULATIONS 1994.

Although, at present, it is not a direct legal requirement (although of course it could be considered to be a Health & Safety matter) it is advised that all electrical appliances and wiring in the property are checked to ensure that they are safe and will not cause injury or damage. This should be carried out when you commence letting and at least every five years after the initial inspection.

FURNITURE AND FURNISHINGS (Fire Safety) REGULATIONS 1988

All furniture and furnishings in the property must meet the requirements of these regulations which set levels of fire resistance for domestic upholstered furniture. All new and second hand furniture provided in accommodation that is let for the first time, or replacement furniture in existing let accommodation, must meet the fire resistance requirements, unless it was manufactured before 1950. Generally, furniture purchased after March 1990 should comply with the regulations and should have a manufacturer’s label confirming that the item meets those regulations.

SMOKE DETECTORS ACT 1991.

Since June 1992 all newly built properties must have been fitted with mainspowered smoke alarms.
Whilst the legislation does not apply to properties that predate this Act it is strongly recommended that landlord’s fit at least one smoke alarm to each floor.

TENANCY DEPOSIT SCHEME.

This Act introduced the Tenancy Deposit Protection Scheme in respect of Assured Shorthold Tenancies. We lodge the tenants deposit with The Deposit Protection Service. You cannot hold the deposit yourself, unless you are a member of the scheme. www.dps.co.uk
ENERGY PERFORMANCE CERTIFICATE.

From the 1st October 2008, if you intend to rent out your property, you will have to provide an Energy Performance Certificate to any prospective tenant. A certificate remains valid for up to ten years. You do not have to provide an Energy Performance Certificate for a tenancy that commenced prior to October 2008.

TAX ON RENTAL INCOME.

Whilst you will be liable to pay tax on the rents received from letting a property, you can set most expenses against the rent eg legal and professional costs, interest on mortgages, the costs incurred in replacing furniture etc.
Your accountant or local HMRC office will be able to provide detailed advice on your particular tax position.
We are able to forward the yearly accounts for your rental properties to you or your accountant (for a small fee).

PERMISSION TO LET.

If you are a leasee, you must make certain that the intended letting is permitted by your lease.
If your property is subject to a mortgage, then permission to let will be required from the mortgagee and to be seen by NATHAN JAMES.
These are your responsibility and we will assume you have made the necessary checks and obtained necessary consents.
We cannot be held responsible for any claim a tenant may bring against you, should you face repossession action as a result of contravening the terms of your mortgage.

INSURANCE NEEDS.

Please ensure that you review any existing policies when first deciding to let your property.
Some standard household policies will not provide adequate cover when the property is let, by excluding certain events or at worst by not providing any cover at all.
It is essential therefore that you contact your insurer or broker to advise them of your plans.
You will then be offered cover or will need to seek cover elsewhere.
It is the Landlord’s responsibility to insure the buildings and the fixtures/fittings/contents that he or she provides.
It is the Tenant’s responsibility to insure their own possessions.
Insurance policies contain various conditions and, for example, how a vacant property is treated can vary from insurer to insurer.
Should your property become vacant between lets it is important that you are aware of restrictions that are in place - some areas of cover will be excluded or limited but as always it is better to be aware of these limitations than to find out when a claim occurs.
NATHAN JAMES Lettings can help in arranging suitable insurances if assistance is required.

© Nathan James Estate Agents 2011