Resources: Landlord Advice, Property Valuation, Tenant Sourcing
There are many issues to consider when letting a property, whether it your former home or an investment purchase. Becoming a Landlord carries obligations and responsibilities which are wide ranging; our aim is to provide information and support to help address any uncertainties that Landlords may have. Below we cover some of the more important questions that are often raised and provide access to additional information and resources.
Because residential letting and property management is a complex business with many pitfalls, we really do believe that a professional Letting Agent like Award Property Management Ltd provides excellent value. Not just in the day to day management of your property and tenancies, but also in the knowledge and experience we can offer in areas such as property values, ever changing legal implications, marketing and administration. Having a professional manage the Landlord and Tenant relationship provides you with support and peace of mind.
The National Approved Letting Scheme (NALS), of which Award Property Management Ltd is a licenced member, is an accreditation body ensuring that member agents comply with the highest industry service standards, thus safeguarding your interests. Our independent redress through our membership of the Property Ombudsman Scheme (TPO), Professional Indemnity, Client Money Protection (CMP) cover and Tenancy Deposit protection arrangements are all audited and reviewed regularly to ensure we remain fully compliant. The visible assurance of the NALS logo provides our customers with peace of mind that they are in safe hands.
The SAFEAGENT mark denotes that Award Property Management Ltd protects Landlords and Tenants money through a Client Money Protection (CMP) Scheme. We have voluntarily joined the scheme operated by NALS, agreeing to the stringent standards required to display the logo. For consumers this provides the assurances that we:
- Carry Professional Indemnity Insurance
- Adhere to defined accounting standards relating to Client Money and have Client Money Protection in place
- Have a transparent customer complaints policy for ‘Putting Things Right’
- Are members of an Ombudsman redress scheme – The Property Ombudsman (TPO) scheme
WHAT ABOUT MARKETING MY PROPERTY?
There are a number of aspects that combine to make your property stand out among the field. Of course the rental price will be key, but presentation and targeting will also play a part in securing the right tenants to match your requirements.
We will always provide you with a realistic valuation of your property. Our assessment is based on the property location and situation, its condition and decorative standard, how it compares with completion (both available and recently let) and our knowledge of the overall state of the local market. We will of course help you with recommendations to ensure you achieve the most from your property. But it is worth remembering that an empty property is costly so it pays not to be greedy with your expectations.
Your property is a valuable asset and to make the most of its potential, presentation is a key factor. Appearance matters, whether it is the kerb appeal as potential tenants approach the property or the standard of decoration and furnishings. How your property is presented will affect how attractive it is to those thinking of making it their home, bear in mind that viewers will often be looking at a number of properties before deciding which is the most suitable and a clean, well maintained and equipped property will always have an improved chance. Our guide to property presentation offers helpful tips in this respect.
There are a number of national online property portals operating now and by far the greatest numbers of tenant enquiries are received via one or other of these. The first sight of your property that potential tenants have is likely to be through a listing on a website for rental property. Therefore we advertise all properties on the market leading web portal Rightmove, providing the widest exposure to your market. We also constantly analyse the information and statistics from these portals to make sure our listings achieve the highest hit rates.
Alongside this we undertake targeted additional marketing in the form of brochures, flyers, property boards and individual listings. Our own website carries property listings showing each home we have available.
FURNISHED OR UNFURNISHED?
Whether to let your property furnished or not will depend to a significant extent on where the home is and who you wish to appeal to. Market conditions play a large part in determining the justification for both attributes and we can advise and guide in this respect. It must of course be remembered that should you decide to furnish your rental property, then you need to adhere to various regulations and be prepared to maintain or replace any furnishings provided.
VIEWINGS AND TENANT SOURCING
Award Property Management Ltd prides itself on selecting quality tenants and matching them to homes that suit both your and their requirements. All enquirers are screened at the first point of contact to ensure they meet our criteria before a viewing is offered.
When viewings take place, they are always accompanied by our property managers who will use the opportunity to establish the suitability of the potential tenants and whether the property is likely to be suitable for their needs. Providing we have keys to the property, it is not necessary for the Landlord to be present at viewings, but some Landlords prefer to be part of this process even if we will subsequently manage the tenancy.
WILL MY PROPERTY BE LOOKED AFTER?
There is certainly some truth in the old adage that if you present to a tenant, a well looked after property, they are more inclined to respect and look after it. Whilst we cannot guarantee that tenants will respect a home in the way that the owner may, through our rigorous assessment we believe we can offer the greatest chance of securing tenants who will enjoy and look after your asset. Together with your requirements, we also have standards on which we do not compromise, so that our selection process secures tenants that can meet their financial and other tenancy obligations.
Of course we don’t reduce our attention to detail once the tenants move in, we continue to proactively support them and work hard to deal with any issues they may have so that they can enjoy their home. We have no wish to intrude on a tenant’s privacy, but where we are managing a property we do carry out regular inspections so that we can make sure the property is being looked after and can advise on any maintenance or repairs that are required.
Should any problems be identified then we can act quickly and effectively before they become of significant concern.
WHAT ABOUT UTILITIES AND REPAIRS?
It is usual for your tenants to be responsible for Council Tax and Utilities such as gas, electric and water for the duration of their tenancy. There are sometimes exceptions to this when a tenancy is agreed with an ‘inclusive’ rent where one or more of the utility charges are included in the rent paid and the Landlord or Agent retains the account responsibility. We can advise on these issues as required. Our responsibility includes taking meter readings when new tenants move in and where we manage a property when the tenants move out, we also notify the utilities of a change of occupier. You should however be prepared to cover the cost of utility charges when the property is vacant.
The responsibility for general property maintenance and repairs falls to the Landlord and we can advise on these matters. Where Award Property Management Ltd is managing the property we take a proactive approach and advise Landlords not just about immediate repairs that may crop up but also advise on maintenance to help build a longer term plan ensuring the property is kept in good repair and condition, thus protecting your investment.
The tenant’s responsibilities are relatively straightforward in that they are under an obligation to use the premises in a ‘tenant-like manner’, as defined in the tenancy agreement. That is to say, they must look after the property and be responsible for the repair of damage that may be attributable to them, or their family or guest’s misuse or neglect. However, tenants are not responsible for any damage not caused by them, or for reasonable wear and tear/ dilapidation due to the ageing of the fabric or the contents of the property.
WILL MY TENANTS PAY A DEPOSIT?
Award Property Management Ltd generally use an Assured Shorthold Tenancy Agreement for all private tenancies (there are some exceptions) and it is a requirement of our tenancies that tenants pay a Tenancy Deposit (typically 6 x the gross weekly rental figure) prior to moving in to the property. There are strict legal requirements in respect of how a tenancy deposit is held and registered and we comply with these through our membership of a Government approved Deposit Protection Scheme. Our scheme is administered by The Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS) and our tenants are all provided with details of the scheme and certification confirming the registration of their deposit.
There are also strict rules about how a deposit is utilised or refunded at the end of a tenancy and at Award Property Management Ltd we pride ourselves of the low level of disputes raised compared to our competitors. This is because we work hard to negotiate fair agreements at the end of our tenancies such that both parties are happy with the outcome.
WHAT ABOUT FINANCIAL IMPLICATIONS?
MORTGAGES AND BORROWING
It is important before you let your property that you obtain permission from your mortgage provider or other lender. Most lenders will permit you to let property, although often there will be covenants or conditions attached to any permission granted. You must ensure that these are notified to us so that they can be incorporated into any tenancy agreement conditions.
For specific advice about mortgages and buy to let borrowing, we would recommend speaking to a professional mortgage advisor. We would always recommend that you engage the services of a qualified independent mortgage advisor and would recommend our preferred agent:
Mervyn Scourfield Thomas
Scourfield Thomas & Associates
Fathings, Dunstall Green Road
Ousden, CB8 8TY Tel: 01638 500316
PAYMENT OF RENT
Your tenants will be liable to pay their rent in advance on their ‘Rent Day’. This will normally be the monthly date corresponding to the first day of their tenancy. We pay rent out within 8 working days of receipt (please note we do not pay in advance against rent that has not been received).
We are not able to guarantee that the rent level for your property will cover any mortgage payments that you may have. We review rents at appropriate intervals to ensure your interests remain protected, but it is important to understand that there can be gaps or voids between tenancies and during these periods mortgage and other payments will still need to be covered even though no rent is being received. By using the services of a professional agent such as Award Property Management, you are accessing the experience to keep voids and tenancy gaps to a minimum.
Your rental property is a valuable asset and it is therefore important that you take the right steps to protect it. As well as buildings insurance cover, it may be necessary to provide contents and accidental damage cover and you may wish to discuss this with your insurance provider. You may also wish to consider rent guarantee cover which will provide some protection should you tenants fail to pay. Our advice is to seek the services of a provider specialising in insurance service for rental property.
TAX IMPLICATIONS AND ADVICE
Award Property Management Ltd is not in a position to provide specific tax advice as each individual circumstance will differ. You will have to pay tax on any profit made from the rental of your property and of course may be liable for Capital Gains Tax should you sell the property for a profit once you no longer wish to rent it. We would always recommend that you engage the services of a qualified tax or financial advisor and would recommend our preferred agent:
2 Haggers Close
Great Chesterford, CB10 1QN Tel: 01799 739001
There are allowances that can be considered to offset the tax liability from residential property rental, however each individual circumstance will differ and as suggested above it is important to seek professional advice specific to one’s own financial position.
There are particular implications in respect of rental income and tax liability for those Landlords who reside or spend significant time overseas. HMRC operates a scheme specifically to deal with non-Resident Landlords and we can advise and assist with applications on this as necessary.