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Landlords


WELCOME TO WEST SURREY LETTINGS “GUIDE FOR LANDLORDS”

The following information is designed to assist you in the successful renting and management of your property.  Whether it is your own home, single investment property or just one of a portfolio, we are the company for you.  West Surrey Lettings provide a range of letting and management services based on the experience, skills and expertise of our lettings team.  Our professional friendly approach given to both Landlords and Tenants alike combined with our membership to accredited Organisations, gives you the assurance that we have a detailed understanding of the lettings and management sector.  By using the latest technology to include high quality details and floor plans along with advertising through leading property papers, high profile property websites and our own modern highly visible office gives you, the Landlord, the best chance of renting your property to the right people and at the right rental level.


VALUATION and ADVICE

The first stage of any relationship between you the Landlord and West Surrey Lettings as your agent is to arrange a convenient time for us to visit and value your property for the rental market.  Whether this is your first venture into becoming a Landlord or you are an experienced Landlord of many years or of many properties, it pays to get expert advice from a company whose sole aim is to successfully market, let and manage your property.  One of our Senior Management team will spend time with you discussing your situation.  From our experience no one property or no one Landlord is ever the same.  The advice we offer will relate to you and your property; we will also discuss your obligations and the legal requirements of becoming a Landlord.  We provide you with a rental assessment of your property based on our experience, knowledge and current market conditions.  The accurate market valuation of your property is essential in the success of the renting out of your property.  It is important that we give you a realistic expectation of what you can achieve because if your property is not accurately assessed then you could experience unwanted empty periods.  With our commitment to Landlords, this is the basis of our success.  The right rental level for the property combined with the correct presentation will ensure that your property is filled with qualified tenants throughout your time as a Landlord.


MARKETING, PROMOTION OF YOUR PROPERTY and TENANT SELECTION

West Surrey Lettings will assist with advice and guidance on the proper presentation of your property.  First impressions count so it’s important to get it right.  We advertise through our high profile office, extensively through the major property portals and our own property friendly website.  We make full use of the local press, even with the advancement of Internet technology we recognise the importance of being visible to both Landlords and Tenants by means other than the Internet.  Our proactive approach to marketing means your property will let quicker and at the best rental level.  By us presenting your property at its best it will give you the edge over similar properties on the market.  This is done by the use of multiple quality images, floor plans and full descriptions.  We can arrange to have one of our display boards outside your property promoting it to the passing market, however this is something we would never contemplate doing without your express permission.  Our relationships with local blue chip and national relocation companies gives you access to a higher quality tenant market.  Once we have found a potential tenant they then have to go through our full referencing procedure which helps us know we have found you the right tenant to live and look after your property.  Rent Guarantee schemes can also be arranged for your total peace of mind.


REGULATIONS

West Surrey Lettings can help guide you through the regulations and legal requirements of being a Landlord.  The trained fully qualified contractors we use can help ensure that your property is not only safe for tenants but also meets the following legal conditions.  Landlords have a duty under common law to ensure the safety of rented property and contents.  Copies of the complete regulations may be obtained from HMSO Publications Centre, PO Box 271, London SW8 5DT.

Gas Safety (installations and use) Regulations 1994 (1996)
From 31st October 1994 it became law for all gas appliances, fittings, pipe work and installations in rented properties to be checked annually by a gas safety registered approved contractor, and that a 'Landlord's Gas Safety Certificate' be issued.  It is a legal requirement that the Landlord or their agent should provide proof, on demand, to the tenant that inspections have been conducted by way of the 'Landlords Gas Safety Certificate'.  Faulty equipment can lead to death and a conviction of unlawful killing on a Landlord.  Under the regulations any appliance that does not conform can be disconnected.

Fire and Furnishings (Safety) Regulations 1988 (1993)
From 1 March 1993, it became an offence to supply furniture and furnishings which do not comply with regulations concerning fire resistance.  All filling material used in furniture, furnishings and re-upholstered items must be fire resistant and carry the appropriate label as evidence of compliance.  The regulations apply to; sofas, beds, bed-heads, children's furniture, garden furniture suitable for use in a dwelling, scatter cushions and pillows, stretch or loose covers for furniture or other similar items.  The regulations do not apply to: curtains, carpets, bedclothes (including duvets and mattress covers).  Furniture manufactured prior to 1950 is exempt from the regulations on the basis that the combustible materials were not in use prior to that date.  Non compliance with the Furniture and Furnishing Regulations could result in a substantial fine or custodial sentence.  If you are unsure of the filling of any furniture in your property, the furniture should be removed.

The Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations (1994)
Landlords have a legal duty to ensure that all electrical devices are safe and comply with British Standards.  The regulations cover all mains voltage household electrical items.  Cabling, fuses and plugs should also be inspected and replaced where necessary to the correct rating for that particular appliance.  The D.T.I. states: "These regulations require that all electrical equipment left at the property be safe and of no risk or injury to human or animal".  Unlike the gas and fire regulations, there is no specific requirement for testing however, Landlords must be aware of their responsibilities to supply safe products.  West Surrey Lettings recommend that all electrical equipment is checked by an N.I.C.E.I.C registered electrician on an annual basis.

The Building Regulations 1991 - Smoke Alarms
The 1991 Building Regulations require that all properties built since June 1992 must be fitted with mains operated interlinked smoke detectors/alarms on each floor.  Such regulations regarding older properties do not exist but we strongly recommend that smoke alarms are fitted in all let properties and are regularly checked to ensure they are in full working order.


LEGAL REQUIREMENTS and TENANCY AGREEMENTS

The Tenant Deposit Scheme
West Surrey Lettings require the tenant to pay one month's rental in advance and to pay a holding deposit of one and a half months.  This is held by West Surrey Lettings as Stakeholders under the Tenant Deposit Scheme in a specific Client Deposit account.  From the 6th April 07 it became law that any assured shorthold tenancy agreement that was entered into the deposit would be held under the terms of The Tenant Deposit Scheme.  It was introduced to ensure good practice in deposit handling and safeguarding of deposits.  Please ask us for full details of the scheme.

Energy Performance Certificate
With effect from 1st October 2008 private Landlords offering a property for rent are required to show prospective tenants an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) which details its energy efficiency rating.  The EPC must be given when any written information about the property is provided or when a viewing is conducted.  In addition, it must always be handed to the actual tenant at the commencement of the Tenancy.

Tenancy Agreement
For individual tenants where the rent is under £100,000 per annum an Assured Shorthold Tenancy Agreement will be used under the terms of the housing Act 1988 (amended 1996).  This type of agreement is also referred to as an ‘AST’ or ‘Shorthold Tenancy’.  Assured Shorthold Tenancy agreements are normally arranged for a six or twelve month period.  This type of tenancy allows the tenant to remain in the property for the fixed term.  The main requirement with this type of agreement is that the Landlord and tenant agree on the minimum term and amount of rent.  An Assured Shorthold Tenancy ensures that the tenant is protected in terms of the sum of rent.  This means that the tenant has the right to challenge excessively high rent or changes in the agreed rent.  At the end of the term the AST can be renewed or if both parties choose it becomes what is known as a Statutory Periodic Assured Shorthold Tenancy Agreement.  The terms of the original tenancy agreement still apply, but the tenancy continues on an agreed period by period basis.  There’s also what is known as a Contractual Periodic Tenancy; this is when no term for the end of the let is set and the tenancy agreement simply continues until either party decide to bring it to an end by serving the correct notice.  For properties where the Tenant is put in by one of the many Companies we deal with the contract would be different to the standard AST and would be a Company Letting Agreement between you the Landlord and the Company in question.  For properties where the annual rental income exceeds £100,000 per annum a Non-Assured shorthold tenancy agreements is used referred to as a Contractual Tenancy Agreement or Common Law Tenancy Agreement.


MORTGAGES and INSURANCE

Mortgage
Consent to let - If you have a mortgage you must obtain consent from your mortgage lender.  If your interest in the property is leasehold your lease may require you to obtain consent from your Landlord prior to sub letting.

Buildings and contents insurance
Most insurers will not cover your rental property under the terms and conditions of a standard household Buildings and Contents insurance policy. It is therefore imperative that Landlords contact their insurers to ensure that they are informed of any change in circumstances and the property and your investment continues to be protected.

What Insurance Do I Need During The Letting?
You are responsible for insuring everything that is yours. Buildings insurance must be maintained.  You should insure whatever you leave in the way of contents (this should include carpets, curtains, cooker etc).  It is advisable to include Accidental Damage cover.

Buy to let
With over 40 years local knowledge we have an extensive knowledge of the local property market, and the latest property trends which means we’re in the ideal place to advise you on the best investment properties.  We can also give you advice on the best schools, the local transport links, shopping and leisure amenities, and the most sought-after streets within the area.  Ultimately using our expertise we will provide you with advice on the best potential investments currently available in the area. 


TAX - UK BASED and OVERSEAS LANDLORDS

UK Based Landlords
Residents in the UK are liable for tax at the standard rate under the Taxes Management Act 1970 Section 79, but there are a number of worthwhile allowances.  These can include the following:
• West Surrey Lettings fees and charges
• Ground rent and management costs for Leasehold properties
• General repairs to the property
• Wear and tear allowance for furnished properties
• Accounting fees and legal expenses
• Building and contents insurance
• Interest on loans for the purchase and improvement of an investment property
All the above may/may not apply to you, it is always best to seek expert guidance from a qualified accountant

Overseas Landlords

If you are based overseas the Inland Revenue hold us as the agent liable for the deduction of the tax for the rental payment.  If the exemption certificate from the Inland Revenue is not completed and returned to HM Customs and Revenue we will hold 20% of all rents received.  This money is then paid over quarterly to the Inland Revenue until such time that the forms are accepted and acknowledged by the Inland Revenue, and an exemption number is given.  The Landlord will then have to apply to the Inland Revenue for reimbursement of any tax owed.  The Certificate is issued in relation to the agent and is not transferable.  We can assist in the correct forms and agent reference to be used in order to limit or stop the need to hold any of the rent for the Inland Revenue.


INVENTORIES and SCHEDULE OF CONDITION

The Inventory detailing the contents and condition of your property is an important part of the Letting process.  Whether furnished or unfurnished the Inventory is a vital document that determines the difference in condition of the property from the start of the tenancy and the end.  Professionally and independently produced, it ensures that there are no misunderstandings and confusion when it is time for the tenancy to draw to a close.  We will, on your request, arrange for the independent company to produce on your behalf.  The independent inventory company are also responsible for the check in and check out when the Inventory will carefully be gone through item by item.  Full meter readings and the recording and acceptance of keys will also be part of this service.

Check in and Check out using Landlord’s Inventory.
West Surrey Lettings are able to use the Landlords prepared Inventory for the check in and check out of the tenant but cannot accept responsibility for items not included on Inventory.

Suggestions
The property should be professionally cleaned including carpets and curtains, this stops any confusion when the tenant leaves as to the standard required.  West Surrey Lettings can arrange for this to be done if requested.  With a furnished let unless otherwise requested, personal effects such as ornaments, pictures, small kitchen equipment and bed linen should be removed.  Beds should be clean and mattresses preferably covered with a fitted mattress protector.  Property let furnished should have all the basic essentials for living including things like vacuum cleaners, washing machines.  Dishwashers and microwaves are optional although with increasing competition for quality tenants we would recommend supplying one.  It is worth remembering however, that whilst a wider range of fitments makes a more attractive home to let, that repair or replacement is your responsibility and obligatory during the tenancy.  Telephone points with broadband connection are most helpful.  Unfurnished properties will usually require carpets, curtains and white goods.

Is It Better To Let Furnished Or Unfurnished?
There is no legal advantage to the Landlord in letting furnished. An unfurnished property can be just as easy to let as a furnished property however we would advise Landlords to be flexible.  If you have somewhere to take your furniture it makes sense to save on wear and tear.  On the other hand if you were to have to pay to store your furniture you may as well leave it in the property.  We can market your property as part furnished, furnished or unfurnished and as soon as we have an interested applicant we can help in the negotiation of the level of furnishings required.
 

WEST SURREY LETTINGS SERVICES

We offer three services to meet your individual needs whether you are a private Landlord, an investment Landlord or a corporate property company.
 
PREMIUM MANAGED - Letting and Full Management
 
Letting and Full Management – let us do all the work
Rental valuation and appraisal of your property
Marketing, advertising and conducting viewings
Tenant selection, introduction and full referencing
Preparation of the tenancy agreement
Collection of rent and deposit
Preparation of the Inventory and schedule of condition
Ensuring that all legal requirements are met
Check in of new tenants and utility transfers with meter readings
Transfer of initial rental income and all ongoing rentals received
Sending out monthly statement of accounts
Regular property visits and reports
Arranging routine repairs and supervision of day to day maintenance
Payment of property related outgoings (excluding mortgage Payments)
Holding and registering of tenants deposit (held in client account)
Correspondence with tenants ref any late rental payments
Negotiating extensions of tenancy
Checking out tenants at the conclusion of tenancy
Liaising with Landlords about any dilapidation issues

RENT MANAGED - Letting and Part Management
Letting and Part Management – when you have the time to be more involved
Rental valuation and appraisal of your property
Marketing, advertising and conducting viewings
Tenant selection, introduction and full referencing
Preparation of the tenancy agreement
Collection of rent and deposit
Preparation of the Inventory and schedule of condition (if required)
Ensuring you are meeting your legal requirements
Check in of new tenants and utility transfers with meter readings (if required)
Transfer of initial rental income and all ongoing rentals received
Sending out monthly statement of accounts
Holding and registering of tenants deposit (held in client account) (if required)
Correspondence with tenants ref any late rental payments
Negotiating extensions of tenancy
Checking out tenants at the conclusion of tenancy (if required)
Liaising with Landlords about any dilapidation issues
Inventory preparation, check ins, check out’s can be arranged if required

LET ONLY - Tenant Find and Introduction
Tenant Find and Introduction – when you just need help securing good quality tenants. 
Rental valuation and appraisal of your property
Marketing, advertising and conducting viewings
Tenant selection, introduction and full referencing
Preparation of the tenancy agreement
Collection of first month’s rent and deposit and transfer of balance of rent
Ensuring you are meeting your legal requirements
Transfer of initial rental income and all ongoing rentals received
Sending out monthly statement of accounts
Holding and registering of tenants deposit (held in client account) (if required)
Inventory preparation, check ins, check outs can be arranged if required

T: 01932 349792
Independent Estate Agents of Argyll and The West Highlands
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