Part 3 – Compliance and preparation continued. (Parts 1 & 2 can viewed on our website under latest blogs on the homepage.)
What do I need to do to comply with current regulation?
Whilst this can be done by the landlord, it is recommended to have a professional inventory carried out in order to be sure any discrepancies when the tenancy ends can be proven easily. The previously mentioned deposit schemes are there to protect the tenants’ money. You must present them (the DPS or other government backed scheme) with a reasonable and provable reason for wanting to withhold any or all of the deposit monies. Some agents do charge a considerable amount for an inventory and it can be tempting to do it yourself. If it is not done correctly, it could cost you later in a dispute. To avoid our landlord’s having to worry and make sure they have the best protection, we at Great Torrington include the cost of the inventory within our fully managed fees. There are no nasty hidden extras. There is a digital file usually holding approximately 100 date stamped photos, meter readings taken at the check-in and a comprehensive description of the entire property – Ceilings, walls, light fittings, thresholds, doors and their frames etc. All with an overview of the condition. The amount of detail within the document is paramount. Most of our lets are unfurnished or at most, include some white goods. We do let fully furnished homes from time to time, and we make sure to include every item from light furnishings to cutlery in the kitchen drawers. We are looking into using our 360 degree Virtual Reality cameras to capture the inventory images. This way one can feel as though they are stood in the room at check out and compare the difference from when the tenant moved in to when they move out. Like most services, we can offer solely to prepare an inventory for a landlord wishing to manage the property themselves. This can be complimented by a check – in service and exit inventory if required.
Electrical safety checks:
These are not yet compulsory unless the home is thatched. I believe it should be considered essential – as will your insurer. The checks are not expensive in relative terms and last for 5 years. Peace of mind and a saving in your insurance premium is well worth the average £250.00 investment. PAT testing is to become mandatory for all appliances supplied for a tenancy. These are carried out every 12 months. Here at Great Torrington, we are going to offer this service at a greatly reduced price as we can do this in-house. These are some of the legislation requirements I very much agree with. It offers peace of mind for both landlord and Tenant. Safety first.
It is very important that this is correct, balanced and deemed fair. A bad tenancy agreement or a bogus one bought online could cost thousands if you came to dispute with the tenant. It is often overlooked how important it is for current standards to be met and complied with. We at Great Torrington have the most up to date legislation built in to our agreements to ensure that if there were ever a dispute, the Landlord, Tenant and ourselves are protected. Large disputes aside, it can also be useful to prove to utility companies for example that a tenant has undoubtedly occupied the property, and help resolve the “who’s bill is this?” scenario. We would notify the utilities companies every time a let is agreed with us, be it managed or not. Generally though, it is there to protect both parties for the duration of the tenancy. It must highlight what each party expects from the other, and must be adhered to. It is a legally binding document. There is much more to consider these days than just a statement that the tenant agrees to pay to use the property. As mentioned before, if you are unsure – we can provide a tenancy agreement only if required.
And finally - The Governments How to Rent Guide:
must be supplied to the tenant on entering the home. This can be easily obtained online. We at Great Torrington will be organising twice yearly, workshops for tenants which will include items from the syllabus from the how to rent guide as well as offering simple instructions for tenants who have not rented or lived on their own before, guides on how to keep the home ventilated correctly, how to identify problems with heating supply to help us address it more swiftly, simple gardening techniques and how to change a lightbulb. The last sounds daft, but you will be amazed at how many bulbs of varying shapes, sizes and fittings we change for tenants per annum.
Now that the compliance element is done, Landlords often also ask:
Should I improve the décor in the home?
It may not be necessary, but if the décor is more than three years old, Yes. I would. If you start a new tenancy with the property in top order, the condition it is left in can be more easily judged. Naturally there will be wear and tear in any property, but making a decision on what is fair and what is excessive is often down to the individual carrying out the exit inventory. We try and be consistent throughout the tenancy checking as we go to our quarterly inspections and ensuring that use is acceptable, and excessive use or damage is not, and rectified during the tenancy to avoid any lengthy void periods between tenancies and to ensure the tenant receives their deposit back in full.
What does it cost to have a letting agent manage the let?
On average – the price of a cup of coffee per day, or £2.71 per day based on a rental income of £550.00 Per Calendar Month. Not a lot considering the risks involved and the fact the agent becomes responsible and liable for the heavy fines and prison sentences if it is not done correctly. Our website features a calculator which, once the rental amount is entered – will list in pounds and pence the exact cost for each of the different services we offer.
Do I need Buildings and contents insurance?
Buildings - Yes. Contents – Not necessarily as the tenant will insure the contents also. You will need buildings insurance without doubt. If there are floor coverings, carpets, furniture or white goods that are particularly good quality, it may be worthwhile seeking a specific item cover or your own contents policy, just in case the tenants contents insurance does not cover them, or cover them sufficiently enough for your requirements. In most cases a specific Landlords insurance is needed too. If the property is mortgaged, this will almost certainly be the case. If there is no mortgage, I would advise that you do seek a specific policy for Landlords to ensure that all claims will be valid. The last thing you want is to have to make a claim, only to be informed that they cannot pay out as they did know there was a tenant in residence instead of yourself.
In the next and final issue, I will address the questions asked relevant to having a tenant occupying the home and finally, what happens when the tenant vacates.
By Mark Spratley