General Practical and Legal Issues

Preparing the Property

We have found that a good relationship with Tenants is the key to a smooth-running tenancy. As Property Managers this relationship is our job, and it is important that the tenants should feel comfortable in their home, and that they are receiving value for money. A well-presented and maintained property in a good decorative order will encourage a good relationship, 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, of light colours and neutral. However, installing light, cream coloured carpets are not favorable, they may look clean and modern, but they do stain very quickly, darker shades are much more serviceable.

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 and a cooker. Remember that there will be wear and tear on the property and any items provided.

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 to do so. 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 Tenants’ responsibility to leave the property in a similar condition. Where they fail to do so, cleaning will be arranged at their expense from their security Deposit.

Information of the Tenant

It is helpful if you leave information for the Tenant in a file including any operation manuals, e.g; on operating the central heating and hot water system, washing machine and alarm system, and the day refuse is collected etc.

Keys

You should provide one set of keys for each Tenant. Where we will be managing the property on your behalf we will arrange to have duplicates cut as required.

Health and Safety and other Legal Requirements

PLESE NOTE THE FOLLOWING REQUIREMENTS ARE THE RESPONSIBILITY OF THE OWNER (LANDLORD), AND WHERE YOU HAVE SIGNED OUR FULL MANAGEMENT AGENCY AGREEMENT, THEY ALSO BECOME OUR RESPONSIBILITY TOO. THEREFORE, WHERE WE ARE MANAGING WE ALSO NEED TO ENSURE COMPLIANCE.

Gas Safety Regulations

As a landlord, you are responsible for the safety of your tenants. The Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 deal with landlords’ duties to make sure gas appliances, fittings and flues provided for tenants are safe. You are responsible for the maintenance and repair of flues, appliances and pipework which you own and have provided for your tenants use by a ‘Gas Safe registered link to external website engineer’ . Although there is no prescribed timeframe for these duties, good practice would be the demonstration of regular, annual maintenance checks and subsequent repairs.

Appliances, which need to be checked, include gas central heating boilers, ovens, hobs, water heaters and room heaters that are run on either mains gas or LPG (Liquid Petroleum Gas). You are responsible for ensuring an annual gas safety check is carried out within 12 months of the installation of a new appliance or flue which you provide and annually thereafter by a Gas Safe Registered engineer. You must keep a record of the safety check for 2 years and issue a copy to each existing tenant within 28 days of the check being completed and issue a copy to any new tenants before they move in.

Whenever possible, ensure that operating instructions booklets for each gas appliance are available at the property for tenants to refer to. Remember, apart from the obvious safety implications, it is a criminal offence not to comply with the gas safety regulations.

Electrical Safety Regulations

While at present there is no statutory annual testing requirement (unlike gas safety regulations) however, we thoroughly recommend that prior to letting your property the appropriate checks and safeguards are carried out to meet safety requirements. It is important that landlords understand they have a duty of care to their Tenants and to ensure that the fixed electrical installation (i.e. the mains wiring) and any supplied domestic appliances and other electrical equipment in a rental property is safe to use and in good repair. The regulations cover all mains voltage electrical goods.

Examples of appliances covered by these regulations include; cookers, kettles, toasters, electric blankets, immersion heaters, washing machines, dishwashers, microwave ovens, refrigerators, etc. We recommend that a portable appliance test (PAT) certificate be provided by a suitably qualified engineer prior to the initial letting of your property and annually thereafter. Any non-repairable items must be replaced or removed.

The manufacturers operating instructions for each appliance must be available at the property to help ensure tenants use the equipment safely. It is important that an NICEIC or similarly qualified electrical engineer checks the fixed electrical installation for safety. This ensures the wiring, sockets, light fittings etc. are sound and that fittings like showers, electric cookers and immersion heaters are deemed safe.

The Institute of Electrical Engineers (IEE) recommends that this be carried out at least every ten years in a domestic environment. We will be happy to assist our clients with their compliance of the safety regulations. For further information, please contact our Lettings team.

What is the legislation regarding furnishings?

It is an offence to supply soft furnishings, which do not meet fire resistance standards and do not carry permanent labels to that effect. Soft furnishings include mattresses, divan bases, upholstered sofas/chairs and cushions. Curtains and carpets are not included within the regulations.

Furniture with upholstery manufactured prior to 1950 are exempt. An example of the label required shows a picture of a smoking cigarette and flaming match. Remember to keep all receipts for purchase of furniture and retain the statutory display labels (those not permanently attached) in a safe place in case tenants wish to enquire as to the compliance of any particular item of furniture.

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 strongly recommend that the Landlord fit at least one alarm on each floor (ideally located in the hall and landing areas).

Energy Performance Certificates (EPC)

Energy Performance Certificates (EPC) were introduced to help improve the energy efficiency of buildings. Since October 2008, If you are selling or renting a home you now need a certificate by law. Agents are also obliged to advertise the results of the EPC whilst marketing a property for sale or to let. The certificate provides ‘A’ to ‘G’ ratings for the building, with ‘A’ being the most energy efficient and ‘G’ being the least, in our experience, the average rating is listed as a ‘D’. Accredited energy assessors produce EPCs alongside an associated report, which suggests improvements to make a building more energy efficient. Consider It Done Lettings has an appointed energy assessor and we can arrange the certificate on your behalf if required. The certificates last for a ten year period. Landlords are required to take note of the information listed within the certificate, but are not obliged by law to act on any of the information.

Is your property a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO)?

If your property is on 3 or more levels and let to 5 or more tenants comprising 2 or more households (i.e. not all of the same family) it will be subject to mandatory licensing by your local authority. Whether mandatory licensing as above applies or not, if there are 3 or more tenants not all related in any property, it is still likely to be an HMO, and special Management rules apply. Consider It Done can advise you further, or ask your local authority for details. Learn more here: http://www.propertylicence.co.uk