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General, Legal Issues & Health Safety Requirements

Preparing The Property

We have found that a good relationship with the tenants is the key to a smooth-running tenancy. As Property Managers this relationship is our job, but it is important that the tenants should feel comfortable in their temporary home, and that they are receiving value for money. It follows therefore that a well presented and maintained property in a good decorative order will go towards this, whilst also achieving a higher rental figure. Tenants are also more inclined to treat such a property with greater respect.

General 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 Landlords 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 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 flooring, curtains/blinds and light fittings. Remember that there will be wear and tear on the property and any items provided.

Personal Items, Ornaments etc
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. However, few tenants are experienced gardeners, and if you value your garden, or if it is particularly large, you may wish us to arrange visits by our regular gardener.

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 tenant’s 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 the refuse is collected etc.

Keys
You should provide one set of keys for each tenant. Where we will be managing we will arrange to have duplicates cut as required


Other Considerations

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.

Income Tax
When resident in the UK, it is entirely the Landlords responsibility to inform the Inland Revenue of rental income received, and to pay any tax due. Where the Landlord is resident outside the UK during a tenancy, under rules effective from 6th April 1996, unless an exemption certificate is held, we as Landlords Agent are obliged to retain and forward to the Inland Revenue on a quarterly basis, an amount equal to the basic rate of income tax from rental received, less certain expenses. Any further information may be obtained from the Inland Revenue.

The Inventory
It is most important that an inventory of contents and schedule of condition be prepared, in order to avoid misunderstanding or dispute at the end of the tenancy. Without such safeguards, it will be impossible for the Landlord to prove any loss, damage, or significant deterioration of the property or contents. In order to provide a complete service, we will if required arrange for a member of staff to prepare an inventory and schedule of condition, at the cost quoted in our Agency Agreement.


Health & Safety + Other Legal Requirements

The following requirements are the responsibility of the owner (Landlord). Where you have signed our Full Management Agency Agreement, they are also our responsibility. Therefore where we are managing we will need to ensure compliance.

Gas
Annual Safety Check : Under the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 all gas appliances and flues in rented accommodation must be checked for safety within 12 months of being installed, and thereafter at least every 12 months by a competent engineer (e.g. a GAS SAFE installer).

Maintenance: There is a duty to ensure that all gas appliances, flues and associated pipe work are maintained in a safe condition at all times. Records: Full records must be kept for at least 2 years of the inspections of each appliance and flue, of any defects found and of any remedial action take.

Copies to tenants: A copy of the safety certificate issued by the engineer must be given to each new tenant before their tenancy commences, or to each existing tenant within 28 days of the check being carried out.

Electrical
There are several regulations relating to electrical installations, equipment and appliance safety, and these affect Landlords and their Agents in that they are ‘supplying in the course of business’. They include the Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulation 1994, the Plugs and Sockets Regulations 1994, the 2005 Building Regulation – Part P, and British Standard BS1363 relating to plugs and sockets. Although with tenanted property there is currently no legal requirement for an electrical safety certificate. It is now widely accepted in the letting industry that the only safe way to ensure safety and to avoid the risk of being accused of neglecting your ‘duty of care’, or even of manslaughter is to arrange such an inspection and certificate.

Fire
The Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations 1988 (amended 1989 & 1993) provide that specified items supplied in the course of letting property must meet minimum fire resistance standards. The regulations apply to all upholstered furniture, beds, headboards and mattresses, sofa-beds, futons and other convertibles, nursery furniture, garden furniture suitable for use in a dwelling, scatter cushions, pillows and non-original covers for furniture. Items which comply will have a suitable permanent label attached. Non-compliant items must be removed before a tenancy commences.

Smoke Alarms
All properties built since June 1992 must have been fitted with mains powered smoke detector alarms from new. Although there is no legislation requiring smoke alarms to be fitted in other ordinary tenanted properties, it is generally considered that the common law ‘duty of care’ means that Landlords and their Agents could be liable should a fire cause injury or damage in a tenanted property where smoke alarms are not fitted. We therefore recommend that the landlord fit at least one alarm on each floor (in the hall and landing areas).

The Tenancy Deposit Scheme

From April 2007, all Deposits taken by Landlords and Letting Agents under Assured Shorthold Tenancies (AST’s) in England and Wales must be protected by a Tenancy Deposit Protection Scheme. Landlords must not take a deposit unless it is dealt with under a Tenancy Deposit Scheme. To avoid any disputes going to court, each scheme will be supported by an alternative dispute resolution service (ADR)

Environmental Performance Certificate

From October 2008 there is a LEGAL requirement for all rented properties to have an Environmental Performance Certificate (EPC). The certificate is valid for 10 years and is a means of rating the efficiency of your property. There is no Legal requirement to improve the efficiency of your property although the certificate will offer recommendations to increase the rating of the property.