Strawberry are experts in lettings and have been working on behalf of landlords and tenants for over 20 years. In that time we’ve picked up some tips that we’d love to pass on to anyone entering what can be a very demanding (and sometimes daunting) time. You may already be aware of some of the information contained within this section, but it is our aim to provide you with what is effectively a checklist for landlords.
It is essential that you inform the Inland Revenue if you are going to let the property, and any rental income must be declared. For more information please visit the HM Revenue & Customs website. As part of our full management and rent collection service, Strawberry will provide you with a convenient monthly statement which can be used in completing your tax return.
If you are going overseas then you must inform the Inland Revenue and obtain an NRL1 certificate. Without receipt of this certificate we are legally obliged to withhold a percentage of the rental income against future tax liabilities. More details on this process can be found at www.hmrc.gov.uk or by writing to the Inland Revenues Centre for Non-resident Landlords:-
NRLS Processing Centre, Fitzroy House, PO Box 46, Nottingham NG2 1BD (0151 472 6208).
For customers with full management or rent collection services Strawberry will provide monthly statements to be used for tax returns.
Redirection of mail
This can be done online at www.royalmail.com or a form can be obtained at any post office. No management agent can be held responsible for mail going missing or failing to be passed on once you yourself have vacated the property.
Preparation of property
We have provided a very comprehensive list of things to think about within our ‘Presenting your property’ section but generally if you think along the lines of ‘better presentation, better tenant, better rent’ you won’t go far wrong. The more attention to detail you pay before you let will make it easier to assess, and therefore deal with, any damage caused during the rental by a tenant.
When the property is ready for letting - and prior to the tenant moving in - Strawberry will prepare a full inventory, including details of all contents and the overall condition of the property. Photographs will be taken to complete this formal record and it will then be presented to the tenants to sign before they move in, ensuring that they fully agree to the handover condition and the schedule contained therein. Failure to provide a comprehensive inventory can result in future problems such as not being able to claim for repairs in the cases where damage has been caused by the tenants. Preparation of the inventory is included within the set up charges for the full management and rental collection services and is also available within the ’introductory-only’ service at an additional cost.
Building & Contents Cover
Strawberry can provide household insurance specifically designed for property being let. Examples of the different levels of cover would be:-
•buildings and contents
•property owners liability
•theft and malicious damage by the tenant
•rental protection and legal expenses
•full cover whilst the property is empty
Please call Strawberry to advise you of the company we are providing information on at present.
Maintenance of property
Under Section 11 of the Housing Act, you are responsible for the maintenance and repair of the structure and main services throughout the tenancy. You are also responsible for any appliances left in the property. It is essential that all repairs be dealt with promptly and to aid both you and your tenant with this process we reserve the right to act in a responsible manner should an emergency occur.
Specific legislative requirements
The following legal requirements can all be provided by Strawberry as part of our management package. We forge strong relationships with local suppliers and national providers who share our professionalism and commitment to customer service so we can provide proposals for every element should you so wish:-
GAS - The law states that gas safety checks must be carried out every 12 months. Boilers should also be maintained under a service contract and this is available at a cost of £70.50 (incl. of VAT).
ENERGY PERFORMANCE - It is now law that every property has an Energy Performance Certificate prior to being let. The cost will be in the region of £75 (plus VAT) and lasts for 10 years.
ELECTRICS - Landlords must confirm that all electrics are safe at the start of the tenancy and the easiest way to prove this is by being able to produce a certificate from an independent professional. Whilst there is no firm legal requirement it is strongly advised that fixed wire testing is carried out every five years and portable appliance (i.e. those appliances with plugs) testing be undertaken every 12 months. We would suggest that both be completed before commencement of initial let and Strawberry can of course assist with these if you wish.
SOFT FURNISHINGS - If there are any soft furnishings to be left on the premises then they must have fire labels. Should there ever be a fire and it is subsequently found that there were no labels on the furnishings then the landlord could be liable for fines, prosecution or, in the worst case, imprisonment. Our advice is to remove any furnishings which do not have adequate labels – we generally find that the majority of tenants tend to prefer unfurnished properties anyway.
APPLIANCES – The tenant must be provided with manuals for each and every appliance left in the property.
DRYING FACILITIES - It is a legal requirement for the landlord to ensure that drying facilities are available, even in the case of an unfurnished property. In its simplest form this can comprise a basic clothes airer.
CHIMNEYS - All working chimneys must be swept prior to the let.
SMOKE ALARMS AND CARBON MONOXIDE DETECTORS - The new Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations came into effect from 1st OCtober 2015 and mean that every landlord (with some very specific exceptions) now has to take precautions to ensure that their tenants are adequately protected. Every rental property will require to have a suitable number of smoke detectors and CO monitors installed throughout the premises. The legislation will be enforced by local housing authorities and failure to comply can be costly as fines can be anything up to £5000.
LEGIONELLA - Important changes came into effect as of the end of 2014 which mean that Landlords are now responsible for the Health & Safety of tenants (and other visitors to their properties) with respect to risk from Legionnaires Disease. It is now mandatory to carry out a basic risk assessment of the water systems within any building which is to be let and this will include inspection and temperature testing of the cold water storage tank, the hot water cylinder and all the outlets within the property such as taps, showerheads etc.
Strawberry will read all meters before the new tenant moves in and we will keep these on file for your records however you must remember that it is your responsibility to advise ALL authority and utility companies of your final meter reading and your forwarding address details. This also applies to council tax, water, telephone, broadband, sky or cable providers. Unfortunately we are not able to do this on your behalf but most suppliers can arrange this easily over the telephone.
Council tax becomes the landlord’s responsibility when the property is empty for any period. The charges will be dependent on a number of factors, including the level of furnishing, but in all cases the costs come back to the property owner.
Selling your property whilst tenanted
Within the Tenancy Agreement there is a clause which states that ‘The tenant must allow any professionals into the property for valuation and prospective purchasers during the last two months prior to the end of the tenancy.’ This clause comes into effect should you wish to put your property on the market during the term of the tenancy.
Please remember that whilst Strawberry are experts in lettings we also have a great reputation for sales and we would love to help you with this as well.
Due to extensive changes in the law, Strawberry are no longer able to serve notices to tenants, gain posession or raise rents - we advise that our landlords seek the services of a full legal specialist for these areas.