Landlord’s Guide

What rent will my property achieve?

We are an independently run business operated by working partners. We are able to offer a personal and friendly Service, whilst at the same time maintaining a high standard of competence and professionalism.

MARKETING:

We conduct “pro-active” marketing, together with extensive advertising in the local papers, and internet portals such as Rightmove.co.uk, FindaProperty.co.uk. and Primelocation.com, this gives your property unrivalled coverage, locally, nationally and worldwide. We ensure that through our efforts we attract the maximum number of potential tenants.

CAREFULLY SELECTED QUALITY TENANTS:

Drawn from a continually updated register, all prospective Tenants are thoroughly referenced through an independent referencing agency to ensure they are unbiased, and in some cases we will also require guarantors. In addition we deal with a variety of both large and small companies for their professional employees.

COMPETITIVE RATES:

We offer a tailored range of Letting and Management Services designed for the first time to the more experienced Landlords. There are no gimmicks and no hidden fees. Our rates are competitive and make the whole letting process affordable.

OUT OF HOURS SERVICE:

For our initial meetings we would be, if necessary pleased to visit your property outside of normal office hours, at a time that is more convenient to you, and thus fit in with your busy schedule. We also provide you with a maintenance emergency line 24 hours a day.

ACCOMPANIED VIEWINGS:

A representative from Heminstone will accompany all prospective Tenants around the property and under no circumstances will keys be handed out to the general public.

GETTING ADVICE:

Whether you are thinking about becoming a Landlord for the first time or already have a Tenanted property, Heminstone are always ready to give you helpful advice and guidance.

For many people, the first concern is whether the property is suitable for letting and what level of rent they could enjoy from the tenancy. For others of a more entrepreneurial nature, advice is often required on what type of property to acquire so that it can be let. We are always ready to give potential Landlords helpful and free advice, often beginning with a “Free No Obligation” market appraisal.

MARKET APPRAISAL:

We offer a free market appraisal service. We will visit the property and advise you of it's suitability for letting, provide you with an estimate of the achievable rental income and give you advice on how to maximise the property's potential, including suggestions for refurbishment or enhancement. If needed, we can help you with the organization and instruction of contractors for any work that may be beneficial to achieve the best rental price for your property.

ADVICE ON BUYING A PROPERTY TO LET:

We can provide free advice for any intended property purchases by clients and non clients. We can give estimates of potential incomes, including recommendations on how to get the most out of the property.

PREPARING YOUR PROPERTY:

When placing your property on the market for Letting it is important that its condition is the best you can make it. As people view properties they will compare them with others on their condition and appearance. First impressions count and will help with both the rental value and the speed at which the property is let. Remember – make the most of its appearance.

It also follows that a tenant who moves into a well maintained property in good decorative order will be more inclined to treat such a property with greater respect.

The following is a guidance of helpful pointers:

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. External paintwork should be overhauled and made good where necessary. Gardens should be mown, trees and bushes trimmed. Tenants are required to maintain the gardens to a reasonable standard, 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 a regular gardener.

FURNISHINGS:

The majority of properties in today's market place are let unfurnished. This is due to legislation introduced by the government in 1988 which in brief, must meet the “cigarette test”, further information is explained in the Legislation section of this guide. As a minimum you will need decent quality carpets, flooring, curtain poles or blinds and light fittings. Remember that there will be wear and tear on the property and any items provided.

CLEANING:

At the commencement of the tenancy the property should 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.

INFORMATION FOR THE TENANT:

It would be helpful if you leave information for the Tenant, e.g. operating instructions for appliances, if applicable, central heating and hot water systems, refuse collection days, etc.

KEYS:

You should provide two sets of keys for the tenant and a set for ourselves where we are managing the property.

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, providing 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 to arrange visits by a regular gardener. Heminstone are happy to supply you with a list of gardening contractors who will undertake all types of gardening maintenance.

LOOKING AFTER YOUR INVESTMENT:

Once a suitable tenant has been secured Heminstone will ensure that prior to the tenancy a condition report and inventory is carried out.

Meter readings are recorded to give a clear indication at what point the Tenant took responsibility.

Your property is the most important asset to you and us, so for those opting for our managed scheme, looking after it becomes our priority.

Maintenance Programmes

Landlords who select our “Management” service for their property enjoy the benefit of advice about future maintenance commitments, thus removing the inconvenience and pressure of instructing contractors for any work to be undertaken. Heminstone only recommend performance proven local contractors covering all aspects of property maintenance who offer good quality work at competitive rates.

However, for Landlords who have specific contractors they would prefer to use, we will ensure that any work to be carried out is directed to those preferred contractors and managed with the same degree of professionalism.

Property Visits

Properties under our “Management” service are visited periodically. This is to ensure that the property is being maintained and used in an appropriate manner by the Tenant.

Heminstone will also be looking for any work that may be needed to maintain the property in a good state of repair. Where an inspection identifies that repairs are necessary, these will be communicated to you in a written report highlighting our recommendations and enabling you to instruct us accordingly.

24 Hour Emergency Service

To ensure that your property remains a highly valuable asset, we operate a 24 hour emergency telephone service for Tenants who experience problems with their property and require immediate attention and guidance. This number is issued at the commencement of each tenancy.

Property Care While Vacant

Should your property be vacant for any period of time, a representative of Heminstone will visit on a regular basis to check it is secure and in good order. We also offer guidance on the necessity for draining the plumbing system during winter months or maintaining some form of heating in the property to ensure no water damage occurs.

LOOKING AFTER YOU

Statement of Account

You will receive a Statement of Account each month. This provides you with details of the rents received together with any deductions made including management fees, VAT, maintenance charges and the balance due to you.

Also included is the schedule detailing any outstanding maintenance charges that are to be taken into account in the next month. On written request we can also provide you with yearly Statements of Accounts for tax purposes for a small administration charge of £30.00 plus VAT.

Landlord Payments

The balance of rent due to you will be paid within 7 working days (subject to having received it from the tenant) and transfer using BACS (Bank Automated Clearing System) via Barclays Bank PLC.

Dilapidation Deposits

Heminstone require the Tenants to pay the equivalent of one and half month's rent as a deposit against damages and any outstanding bills that may be left. We hold this deposit in a 'bonded designated client account' for the protection of both you and the Tenant throughout the duration of the tenancy. We are voluntary members of the Tenancy Deposit Scheme, which gives both you and the Tenant access to an independent arbitration facility in the unlikely event of a dispute arising.

In certain circumstances, such as with a furnished property, the dilapidation deposit amount can be increased to cover a higher value. However, please be aware that by increasing the deposit amount required to be paid by a prospective Tenant could adversely affect the attractiveness of your property.

Please note, that deposits are held by Heminstone, as the 'stakeholder'.

Insurance Policies

Landlord Insurance

Heminstone, can offer you details of insurance schemes specifically designed for Landlords.

Buildings Insurance

Buildings insurance is mandatory if you have a mortgage on the property to be let. If not, it is highly recommended in all cases. The minimum recommended cover comprises:

The cost of re-building of your property following the loss or damage caused by fire, aircraft, smoke, malicious persons (including Tenants), accidental damage to the bathroom fixtures and fittings and glass, lightning, explosion, collision or impact, falling trees and earthquake, theft (by forcible means), subsidence, riot/civil commotion, storm, flood, escape of water or oil leakage and loss or rent up to 20% of the sum insured following damage.

Essential recommended cover should also include Employer's Liability of £10,000,000 (Ten Million Pounds) and Property Owners liability, £5,000,000 (Five Million Pounds).

Limited Contents Cover

Buildings insurance is mandatory if you have a mortgage on the property to be let. If not, it is highly recommended in all cases. The minimum recommended cover comprises:

The cost of re-building of your property following the loss or damage caused by fire, aircraft, smoke, malicious persons (including Tenants), accidental damage to the bathroom fixtures and fittings and glass, lightning, explosion, collision or impact, falling trees and earthquake, theft (by forcible means), subsidence, riot/civil commotion, storm, flood, escape of water or oil leakage and loss or rent up to 20% of the sum insured following damage.

Essential recommended cover should also include Employer's Liability of £10,000,000 (Ten Million Pounds) and Property Owners liability, £5,000,000 (Five Million Pounds).

Limited Contents Cover

Where the property is let unfurnished, limited contents cover can be obtained which can provide up to £5,000 (Five Thousand Pounds) cover against the following items:

  • Carpets and Curtains
  • Sun Blinds
  • Light fixtures and fittings
  • Kitchen white goods

Cover should be on a new for old basis.

Contents Insurance

Where the property is let furnished cover for an amount appropriate to the size and contents of the property is recommended. Cover should be on a new for old basis for loss or damage caused by fire, aircraft, smoke, malicious persons (including Tenants), accidental damage to the bathroom, fixtures and fittings and glass, lightning, explosion, impact, theft (by forcible means), subsidence, riot/civil commotion, storm, flood, escape of water or oil leakage, breakage of mirrors and glass in furniture, replacement of locks following theft of keys and loss of rent up to 20% of the sum insured following damage.

Essential recommended cover should also include Employer's Liability of £10,000,000 (Ten Million Pounds) and Property Owner Liability, £5,000,000 (Five Million Pounds).

Legal Expenses

Cover should be for all legal expenses up to £50,000 (Fifty Thousand Pounds).

Emergency Assistance Insurance

This covers the cost of any contractor call out plus labour charges, parts and materials up to a maximum of £500.00 (including VAT) for each emergency in connection with:

  • Plumbing, drainage, roofing and guttering
  • Electricity supply
  • Security of doors and windows
  • Cooking
  • Lost keys
  • Primary Heating
Rental Guarantee

For your total peace of mind, we can arrange for a rental guarantee policy that will continue to pay the agreed rent to you, once a signed agreement is in force, should the Tenant fail to pay their monthly rent.

Additionally the rental guarantee scheme will pay you up to 50% of the monthly rent for a maximum of 3 months after vacant possession has been obtained, whilst a new Tenant is being found. All related legal expenses are included.

The polices are continually updated therefore please ask a member of staff for details.

RIGHTS AND RESPONSIBILITIES

Council Tax

Tenants are responsible for the council tax during the period of the tenancy agreement. They are responsible for opening the account, closing the account and paying any bills arising from signing the tenancy agreement.

If the property is vacant then you are responsible for any council tax arising throughout this period. If the property is unfurnished you may be eligible for a six month exemption from council tax.

Whilst Heminstone can deal with the local authority and apply for any reductions, as a third party difficulties can arise with some councils in resolving outstanding bills. We recommend that these matters are best dealt with directly by you.

Electricity and /or Gas Utilities

It is the landlord's responsibility to notify the relevant company of the readings prior to the Tenant occupying the property. These readings can be supplied by us and will form part of the inventory, which both parties are obliged to sign as acceptance and agreement to the property status and condition.

Water & Sewage

Where your property has a water meter, readings will be taken immediately prior to the Tenant signing the tenancy agreement and you will need to notify the water provider of the readings and the sewage company. These readings will also be added to the inventory. If no meter is present the procedure describe above for Council Tax will apply.

Oil

If your property has oil fired central heating, we recommend you ensure that the oil tank is full at the commence of the first tenancy.

Due to the wide variety and complexity of differing utility suppliers, we do not specify in the tenancy agreement which suppliers Tenants use, but do specify we are notified in writing before any change is transferred. It is also important that Landlords/owner/occupiers close their own accounts with utility companies/local authorities prior to the Tenants occupation as we are a third party and do not have the authority to do so. Readings are taken by us to indemnify you from liability once they have closed the relevant accounts.

Any liabilities arising from the aforementioned not being undertaken would be the Landlord's sole responsibility and not that of Heminstone.

LANDLORD'S REPSPONSIBILITIES

Notifying Your Lender

It is your responsibility to notify and gain acceptance from your mortgage lender (if applicable) for you to let the property. This is a relatively straightforward process, with your lender able to instruct you on the necessary procedure. It is normal for the lender to issue their acceptance in writing and it is important to note that the lender may make a charge for permitting the property to be let.

A majority of lenders do prefer that a professional managing agent in the industry is instructed to look after your property, especially as many complications may arise when renting out property. It is very important that you do secure permission from your lender before the commencement of any tenancy as in some cases you may find yourself in breach of your mortgage covenants if you fail to do so.

Buildings Insurance

You must maintain adequate buildings insurance on your property at all times. Given that your property will not be owner/occupied, Heminstone can advise you on any insurance that may be needed.

Post Redirection

It is advisable that any post being sent to the property addressed to you is redirected to your correspondence address using the post office's redirection service. We will endeavor to redirect any mail sent to the property as quickly as possible, but cannot be held responsible if the Tenant does not forward it. We recommend that you ensure a postal redirection is in place or that the necessary parties have been informed of your correct correspondence address to avoid any significant time delay.

Ownership

You must demonstrate to us that you are either the legal owner/s of the property or have the owner/s authority to act on their behalf, with the latter being verified in writing. In the event of either of these conditions proving false, Heminstone, are legally indemnified against any improprieties because of false claims.

Responsibilities For Boundaries/Fences/Unmade Roads

It is important that you notify us which boundaries/fences are in your ownership and what your responsibilities are. This also applies to any unmade roads and covenants specified in the deeds to the property. It would be advantageous if you can provide us with a sketch showing the boundaries and fences of the property that are your responsibility.

Gardening

The garden should be presented in an acceptable condition when the Tenant takes up occupancy of the property. It will then be the Tenant's responsibility to maintain the garden in the condition throughout the period of the tenancy. It is important to note that you retain responsibility for the upkeep of the boundaries shrubs and trees. Due to the nature of disputes that can often arise between neighbors over these matters, we cannot stress enough that these remain your responsibility.

Keys

Please ensure that the property has secure locks on all doors and windows. Tenants may have issues with insurance cover if locks are substandard to requirements.

LEGAL POINTS, LEGISLATION AND TAX

Tenancy Agreements

Heminstone operate ARLA approved Assured Shorthold Tenancy Agreements complying with the Housing Act 1988 and the subsequent 1996 and 2004 amendments. These agreements run for a minimum period of six months with either party wishing to give notice being subject to statutory regulation as set out in each agreement.

The tenancy agreement can have any reasonable clauses added or removed at your request. It is essential that we receive any such requests in writing at the beginning of the marketing process.

Sub Letting

A clause in the standard Assured Shorthold Tenancy Agreement prohibits sub-letting by the Tenant.

Notice Periods

Under an Assured Shorthold Tenancy Agreement both the Landlord and the Tenant have certain statutory rights. If the Tenant signs a tenancy agreement for a minimum of six month's the Landlord guarantees the Tenant occupation for the full term. In return the Tenant guarantees the full rent to the Landlord for that period.

Should you wish to terminate a tenancy, under statutory legislation you must give the Tenant a minimum of two month's notice effective form the rent due date. Should a Tenant wish to give notice, it is currently understood that they need only to give one month's notice to vacate the property, however, under current legislation there are no stipulations on what notice period a Tenant should give.

We currently include a two month notice period clause within the Assured Shorthold Tenancy Agreement for either party. You should note that in the event of a dispute it can be at the court's discretion as to what should be the correct notice period given by the Tenants to vacate. The above applies once the initial fixed term of the agreement has expired.

If both parties are happy with the tenancy once the fixed term has expired the Agreement will continue to operate on a periodic basis with either party being able to give notice under the relevant clause in the Agreement. If both parties wish for another fixed term then we can arrange this subject to a renewal fee.

Guarantors

Some prospective Tenants require guarantors in certain circumstances and this will require your approval. It is most commonly used in the case of student lettings, or those whom are unable to verify income, where a relative or guardian will guarantee the rent due for that Tenant. Heminstone can supply a guarantor agreement or use one specified by you.

Tax

Rental Income

From 6th April 1996 the Finance Act 1995 stated that all income whether from furnished or unfurnished property is assessable for tax under schedule A. You may deduct certain expenses from the gross income to give a net figure against which any tax liability can be calculated.

For more information on what expenses are allowable either contact the Inland Revenue/Self Assessment unit on 0845 9000 444. on go to their website at www.inlandrevenue.gov.uk

Non UK Resident Landlord – The 1995 Finance Act

As of April 1996 non-resident Landlords, i.e. those not living in the UK, are able to apply either directly, or through UK accountants, to the Inland Revenue for self-assessment on the tax from rental income. If granted by the Inland Revenue and confirmed in writing this will enable the agent to release the rent gross without making tax retention thereby easing the Landlord's tax flow. Joint owners must each apply to the Inland Revenue.

If the Landlord is not granted self-assessment, the agent will have to pay to the Inland Revenue on a quarterly basis the appropriate income tax percentage of the net rental income. The calculation for tax paid by the agent will not include mortgage interest, depreciation or other tax-deductible items. Any overpayment of tax will then need to be reclaimed at the end of each tax year by the Landlord submitting a statement of accounts to the Inland Revenue directly.

When considering applications for self-assessment the Inland Revenue will look favorably on Landlords who have their tax affairs in order to April 1995.

Housing Act 1996

On Friday 28th February 1997 there is no longer the need for a private Landlord to serve a Notice of an Assured Shorthold Tenancy Agreement. All new tenancies are automatically deemed to be Assured Shorthold Tenancies. The new legislation has also ensured that Landlords are now able to

Energy Performance Certificates

From 1st October 2008 an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) is required for all rental property whilst being advertised for Let. There is no pass or fail, just a resulting energy rating from the assessment which enables potential tenants to compare energy ratings of properties to help make their choice. The EPC lasts 10 years but may be re-assessed after improvements, such as better loft insulation or replacement double glazed windows, which may improve the energy rating. The EPC will need to be commissioned and paid for in advance of marketing the property on the open market.

Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998

This regulation came into force on 31st October 1998 and consolidates with three different statutory instruments. Under these regulations it is the duty of any person (i.e. Landlord) who owns a gas appliance and pipe work installed in the premises to ensure that such appliance and pipe work is maintained in a safe condition so as to prevent risk or injury to any person. The Regulations cover all appliances and all types of gas for heating, lighting, cooking or other purposes for which gas can be used.

The owner (i.e. the Landlord) of any gas appliance must ensure that each appliance is checked for safety at least every 12 months by a qualified gas engineer, e.g. an employee of British Gas or a Corgi registered person. A record must be kept of all safety inspections and the results open to the Tenants for inspection by law.

The Landlord must have a Gas Safety Inspection carried out before a Tenant(s) occupies the Property and signs the tenancy agreement.

You must make the Gas Safety Certificate available to us upon request before commencement of the tenancy. If the Landlord is unable to do so, Heminstone will arrange for a gas safety inspection on your behalf from our approved list of contractors and the cost of this service will be deducted from the rent due.

Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 1994 & Electrical safety Standards in Private Rented Sector (England) Regulations 2020

These regulations came into force in January 9th 1995 replacing the low voltage electrical equipment regulations of 1989. Put quite simply, each electrical item supplied by you should be labeled to show that it has been tested and it should also either carry details of the test or a certificate provided by the electrician noting the make of each appliance tested. This means that all equipment must either have instructions shown on the appliance or should have an instruction book supplied. Any equipment supplied after January 1st 1997 will be expected to have the marking CE either on the appliance or on the packaging.

  • It is a criminal offence to supply unsafe electrical equipment with rented accommodation. The maximum fine is £5,000.
  • The above regulations apply to portable domestic electrical equipment such as:
  • Electrical heaters, lamps, televisions, radios, vacuum cleaners, irons, toasters, microwaves, refrigerators and other electrical kitchen equipment.
  • Built -in electrical goods such as cookers and certain storage heaters are not covered by the Regulations; however, Landlords should be aware that any person injured by the Landlord's property could sue for damages.
  • Electrical items must be examined by a qualified electrician prior to Tenants taking occupation and if required we can instruct an approved Contractor to carry out this check on your behalf. The portable appliance test must be undertaken for each new set of Tenants.
  • In accordance with the new regulation commencing 1st July 2020, The Electrical Safety Standards in the Private Rented Sector (England). The electrical wiring, sockets consumer units (fuse boxes) and other fixed electrical parts in rented homes must be inspected and tested every 5 years, or more often if the inspector that is necessary.
  • Throughout the whole time a tenant is living at the property, national safety standards must be met.
  • The Landlord is required to give to the Tenant a EICR (electrical Installation Condition Report) that shows the condition of the properties electrical installations. You as a landlord may also have to provide this to the local council if they ask for it.
  • Any properties where a tenancy agreement is signed on or after 1st July 2020 is required to comply to this legislation.
  • For existing tenancies signed before 1st July 2020, the regulations will apply from 1st April 2021.

The Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) (Amendment) Regulations 1983

In 1998 the government introduced new Regulations on the use of any filling material or re-holstery whether foam or non-foam and the requirements of the furniture to meet the “cigarette test” introduced in 1980. These Regulations came into force on March 1st 1993 whereby all rented furnished properties coming onto the market for the first time should only be furnished with contents that meet the “cigarette test” and carrying the appropriate permanent labeling clearly showing they are fire resistant.

Furniture manufactured prior to 1950 are exempt from these regulations as the Department of Trade and Industry has pointed out that most of the defective materials that cause fire were not in use prior to 1950.

All furniture manufactured after 1983 should already comply with the regulations, but this cannot be relied upon without proof from the manufacturer of its compliance, there is particular concern for foam filled furniture manufactured between 1950 and 1983.

The Landlord must ensure that furniture complies with the above legislation before Tenant(s) occupy the property and any furniture failing to comply must be removed by the Landlord and and stored at the Landlord's expense. We have the right to remove any furniture that does not carry a permanent label, or which does not comply with these regulations.

These regulations cannot be avoided and it is not acceptable to do any of the following:

  • Give the furniture to the Tenant
  • Sell the furniture to the Tenant
  • Leave the furniture off the inventory
  • Put the furniture in a skip, garage, or garden or in a place where the Tenant will be able to find it and could take it back into the property
  • Give the agency an indemnity that the furniture complies
  • Get the Tenant to sign a document to say that they do not mind that the furniture is illegal

All properties must also have a smoke alarm fitted. (Further information can be obtained from the DTI.

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