Landlords

Preparing your property for rental

Condition 

Electrical, gas, plumbing, waste, central heating and hot water systems must be safe, sound and in good working order. Repairs and maintenance are at the Landlord's expense unless misuse can be established. Interior decorations should be in good condition and preferably plain, light and neutral.

Furnishings 

Your property can be let fully furnished, part furnished or unfurnished. Which of these is appropriate will depend on the type of property and local market conditions. We will be pleased to give you advice on whether to furnish or not and to what level. As a minimum you will need to provide decent quality carpets, curtains and light fittings. Remember that there will be wear and tear on the property and any items provided. 

Personal Possessions 

Personal possessions, ornaments, pictures, books etc. should be removed from the premises, especially those of real or sentimental value. Some items may be boxed, sealed and stored in the loft at the owner's risk. All cupboards and shelf space should be left clear for the Tenant's own use. 

Gardens 

Gardens should be left neat, tidy and rubbish free, with any lawns cut. Tenants are required to maintain the gardens to a reasonable standard, provided they are left the necessary tools. 

Cleaning 

At the commencement of the tenancy the property must be in a thoroughly clean condition, and at the end of each tenancy it is the Tenants' responsibility to leave the property in a similar condition. Where they fail to do so, cleaning will be arranged at their expense.

Information for the Tenant 

It is helpful if you leave information for the Tenant, e.g. on operating the central heating and hot water system, washing machine and alarm system, and the day refuse is collected etc. 

Flowers
Southern and West Team

Important Considerations

References 

We carry out detailed checks on any potential tenants including credit checks, current and previous landlord references and employment history of the prospective tenant. If there is any question or doubt about the tenants ability to pay the rent, or perhaps job security we would only advise upon proceeding if a suitable Guarantor could be provided. We also carry out an internet search on Google to ensure there is no criminal history and check their social media pages. 

The Inventory 

A properly constructed Inventory/Schedule of Condition details the fixtures and fittings and describes their condition and that of the property generally. With the introduction of the Tenancy Deposit Protection legislation in April 2007 is more important than ever that a detailed inventory is drawn up at the start of each tenancy to assist with the resolution of deposit disputes. 

The Deposit 

This is usually equivalent to 5 weeks rent and where we are acting on a Full Management Agreement, is held by us as stakeholders and registered with the Deposit Protection Service. Tenancy Deposit Protection was introduced in April 2007 and applies to all Assured Shorthold Tenancies where a deposit is taken. 

What is an Assured Shorthold Tenancy 

Most tenancies will automatically be Assured Shorthold Tenancies (ASTs), provided the rent is under £100,000 a year and the property is let to private individuals. Tenancies are usually granted for an initial fixed term of either 6 or 12 months. When the fixed term has expired the landlord is able to regain possession of the property provided he gives two months written notice to the tenant. In addition, if the tenant owes at least 2 months or 8 weeks rent on the property he can apply through the court to seek a possession order. 

Mortgage 

If your property is mortgaged, you should obtain your mortgagee's written consent to the letting. They may require additional clauses in the tenancy agreement of which you must inform us. 

Leaseholds 

If you are a leaseholder, you should check the terms of your lease, and obtain any necessary written consent before letting. 

Insurance 

You should ensure that you are suitably covered for letting under both your buildings and contents insurance. Failure to inform your insurers may invalidate your policies. We can advise on Landlords Legal Protection, Rent Guarantee Cover and Landlords Contents and Buildings Insurance if required. 

Income Tax 

When resident in the UK, it is entirely the Landlords responsibility to inform the Revenue & Customs of rental income received, and to pay any tax due. Where the Landlord is a resident outside the UK during a tenancy, he will require an exemption certificate from the Revenue & Customs before he can receive rental balances without deduction of tax. Where we are managing the property we will provide advice and assistance on applying for such exemption. 

Council Tax 

We will arrange for the transfer of Council Tax and Utility Accounts to the Tenant. Meter readings will be taken, allowing your closing gas and electricity accounts to be drawn up. All these matters we will handle for you, however British Telecom or other Landline Providers will require instructions directly from both the Landlord and the Tenant. 

Legal Requirements (Health & Safety) 

The Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 (GSIUR) as amended in April 2018

Under these regulations, all Landlords are to ensure the property has the installation of the gas supply and all gas appliances, certified as safe annually by a GAS SAFE registered Gas engineer. A copy of a current in date certificate has to be provided to tenants upon move in. 

Electrical Safety 

Unlike the Gas Regulations, there is no statutory requirement to have the electrical installation at a property checked, annually or otherwise. However, the Consumer Protection Act 1987 and the Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 1994 clearly state that if you let a property you must ensure that the electrical system and all the appliances are safe to use, and failure to comply with this is a criminal offence and may result in a fine or imprisonment. In addition, failure to comply may result in your property insurance being invalidated. These regulations are enforceable by the Health and Safety Executive. 

Additionally, In January 2005 new legislation under Part P of the Building Regulations make it a requirement that for certain types of electrical work in dwellings, including outbuildings, comply with the standards. This means a competent electrician must carry out the work. 

Southern & West strongly advise Landlords to demonstrate due diligence and have qualified electricians carry out a periodic Inspection, and that this is conducted every 5 years. In addition it would be additional due diligence to have a PAT (Portable Appliance Test) conducted every tenancy, and for Landlords to keep copies of all inspections. 

Furniture and Furnishings (Fire Safety) Regulations 1998 (as amended in 1989, 1993 and 2010) 

The Government have introduced a number of pieces of legislation to control the level of fire resistance in domestic furniture and furnishings. Landlords must conform with the Regulations which apply to all upholstered furniture as it is the “filling” that must be fire retardant. Display labelling is required to indicate the ignition resistance of each item of furniture and needs to be attached to all new furniture at the point of sale, with the exception of mattresses, bed-bases, pillows, scatter cushions, seat pads, loose covers (sold separately from the furniture) and stretch covers.

Smoke Detectors & Carbon Monoxide Alarms (England) Regulations 2015

By law from 1st October 2015 landlords are required to have a working smoke alarm fitted on every storey of a rental property, and in every room that contains a solid fuel-burning appliance, such as a coal fire or wood-burning stove. The regulations also stipulate that a carbon monoxide alarm must be fitted in any room containing a solid fuel burning appliance. Landlords (or someone acting on their behalf) must ensure all alarms are in working order and test that these appliances are working on the first day of each new tenancy, after which the tenants are responsible for regular testing. 

Energy Performance Certificates – The Energy Efficiency (Private Rented Property)(England and Wales) Regulations 2015 (The Regulations)

From 1st April 2018, Properties rented out in the private sector are required to have an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) with a minimum energy performance rating of ‘E’. It is unlawful to rent out a property which does not have a minimum E rating unless the property has an exemption. While this seems to be an onerous requirement for landlords to comply with, it is not. Only appropriate, permissible and cost-effective improvements are required. At the moment, if the improvements cannot be funded or the landlord has carried out all possible improvements and the property still has an F rating, for example, exemptions will apply Breaches of the regulations could result in a civil penalty of up to £4,000. Where a property is legally required to have an EPC but is not let on a relevant tenancy, the Regulations will also not apply. The Regulations will apply to all relevant new and renewed tenancies from 1 April 2020. Therefore from 1 April 2018, you will need and EPC with a rating of at least E for all new properties let and any tenancy renewals. This includes when a fixed term expires and a statutory periodic tenancy begins after 1 April 2018. 

The Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS) 

The Housing Health&and Safety Rating System (HHSRS) assesses 29 housing hazards and the effect that each may have on the health and safety of current or future occupants of the property.  The HHSRS provides a way that hazards can be assessed and the best way of dealing with them identified.  If a hazard is a serious and immediate risk to a person's health and safety, this is known as a Category 1 hazard.  If a hazard is less serious or less urgent, this is known as a Category 2 hazard. 

Homes in Multiple Occupancy 

If your property is on more than three levels and let to 5 or more tenants comprising of two or more households (I.e. not all of one family unit) the tenancy will be subject to mandatory licensing by your local authority. Whether mandatory licensing as above applies or not, if there are three or more tenants not all related in any one property, it is still likely to be a HMO and special management rules apply. It is prudent, if in doubt, to contact the council and check. 

Right to Rent Immigration Checks

Before renting out a room or a property, private landlords and agents are legally required to check the immigration status of the tenant or lodger or any other adults who will be living at the property. The checks only apply to agreements that started on or after 1st February 2016. Southern & West will carry out the necessary checks in order to establish a statutory excuse. In order to establish a statutory excuse to a civil penalty, right to rent checks on prospective tenants with a limited right to rent must be undertaken and recorded within the 28 days before the tenancy agreement is entered into.

Southern and West HQ

Our Services

Tenancy Repairs

Whether it’s something as simple as a dripping tap or something as important as no hot water both landlords and tenants can rest assured that the maintenance team at Southern & West has every aspect of property maintenance covered. With access to a wide range of time-served qualified contractors, covering every trade possible, Southern & West will ensure the repair is professionally handled from start to finish. It’s important to us that we continue to provide a reliable, competent & trustworthy repairs service to our customers, using local contractors where possible, and we are proud to have worked with the majority of our contractors for several years now. 

Monthly Statements

If we manage your property, you will receive your monthly statement via e-mail the day the rent is paid and you can expect the amount payable to reach your account within 24 hours, depending on which bank you use. If there are deductions to be made for outstanding invoices, these will accompany your statement. We also have the facility to send copies of your monthly statements and invoices to your account (if so required). To make things easier for our landlords, we are also able to produce an annual income/expenditure statement for your accountant at the end of each tax year (extra cost).

Property Inspections

If we fully manage your property, we will carry out regular property inspections throughout the life of a tenancy and provide you with a written report, along with photographs, so that you can keep abreast of the properties condition. Whilst carrying out the inspection, we will also test the smoke detectors/carbon monoxide alarm and report any maintenance issues we note whilst there.

Managed 

  • Free Market Appraisal (Valuation) 
  • Marketing of the property using our extensive resources 
  • Arranging and attending viewings with prospective Tenants 
  • Agreeing (advising) terms with prospective Tenants and Landlords 
  • Obtaining Reference/Credit checks on prospective Tenants 
  • Arranging Gas and Electrical checks (extra cost) 
  • Checking the property prior to Tenancy (obtaining meter readings) 
  • Liaising with utility companies regarding new tenancies 
  • Completing all legal paperwork with Tenants (and obtain/issue keys) 
  • Undertake regular property inspections and conduct comprehensive reports 
  • Taking calls from Tenants regarding maintenance etc issues 
  • Arranging maintenance works (with Landlords consent) 
  • Checking the property when Tenants vacate and checking schedule of condition 
  • Dealing with transfer of deposits and disputes (where applicable) 
  • Collection of Rent and chasing arrears (when necessary) 
  • Re-letting property and minimising void periods 

Let Only (Finders Fee) 

  • Free Market Appraisal (Valuation) 
  • Advice on Rent/Tenancy terms 
  • Arranging and attending viewings with prospective Tenants 
  • Agreeing (advising) terms with prospective Tenants and Landlords 
  • Obtaining Reference/Credit checks on prospective Tenants 
  • Taking Security deposits 
  • Settling terms with Tenant and Landlord 
  • Handing keys and landlord details to tenants on tenancy start date once all paperwork is complete 
  • Taking and processing initial move-in monies and arranging transfer 

Pre-Letting Service 

  • Refurbishment (Including Kitchens/Gas & Electrical work) 
  • Safety Checks (Gas/Electrical) 
  • Decorating and Maintenance (including Gardening) 
  • Cleaning (including carpets) 
  • Agreed additional services