A GUIDELINE TO RESIDENTIAL LETTING AND PROPERTY MANAGEMENT
FOR PROSPECTIVE LANDLORDS

If you are considering renting your property, possibly for the first time, it is essential that you seek professional advice and assistance, in order to avoid the problems which can arise.  This guide outlines the procedures which are usually necessary in order to ensure that the tenancy arranged is most suitable to your requirements.

PROFESSIONAL ADVICE
It is imperative that before letting your property, you take the advice of professional property managers.  By approaching our company you have taken the first step towards the uncomplicated letting and management of your property.  We specialise in providing a professional, competent service which we outline below and recommend that you proceed as follows:

FREE VALUATION AND APPRAISAL
Arrange for one of our qualified valuers to call and visit your property to provide you with our assessment of its rental value.  At the same time, we can also advise you of any improvements or alterations which may be necessary for the arrangement of tenancy to suit your particular needs.
You may be considering letting your property on a furnished or part-furnished basis and we will advise you as to the suitability of the items which are being left, and any other particular features of the property for which special attention is required.

This advice is given without charge or obligation.

MARKETING
We advertise through, Evening Star, Rightmove, our Main Road Office Internet our own Website and also our distinctive 'To Let' boards.

CARE OF YOUR PROPERTY
Whilst in our management, we do our utmost to ensure that your property is cared for and maintained in a good order.  To this end, we undertake to inspect your property at regular intervals.

In addition to the initial inspection and the taking of the inventory at the commencement of every tenancy, we also undertake to inspect the property at approximately three monthly intervals throughout the duration of the tenancy.  The purpose of these intermediate inspections is to ensure that the Tenant is complying with the tenancy agreement and, in particular, taking good care of the property and its contents.  If any areas of concern are noted at these inspections, these are taken up immediately with the Tenant and rectified.  We would only notify you, the Landlord, if there was a reason for concern, but a formal report following these inspections is always kept on file and can be inspected by you if you so wish.  Remember, we photograph every property before and after occupation.

MAINTENANCE AND REPAIR
If the property remains on our register for a longer period, normal works of maintenance may become necessary.  When these are reported to us, or we make note of them at our inspections, we will approach you for your instructions and if required, arrange for works to be competitively undertaken by our Maintenance Company, who are fully Insured.

There may also be the natural disasters (i.e. burst pipe, storm damage etc.), which require more immediate attention.  When undertaking your instructions, we will make note of your requirements in this respect, as indicated in the Agency Contract.  Unless the works are extensive, there is no additional charge for our involvement in supervising the works.

INSURANCE
It is normally necessary to inform the insurers of the property and the insurers of the contents (where appropriate) that the property is to be let.  Some insurance companies do not insure tenanted properties and it may be necessary to rearrange cover.  We will be happy to arrange this through our credit agency insurers.

We can arrange competitive quotations for the insurance of your property and the contents, if applicable, through insurers specialising in rented accommodation.  Additionally, if required, we can arrange Rental Warranty and Legal Expenses Insurance which cover the loss of rent in the unlikely event of permanent arrears developing and legal expenses incurred in the recovery.

In the event of our arranging the insurance on your behalf, we can make payment of the renewal premiums out of the rents at no extra cost to you.

THE RENT AND SECURITY DEPOSIT
Before allowing the Tenants to enter the property, we require that they pay over to us the first month's rent as provided by the Tenancy Agreement plus a Security Deposit.

The Security Deposit remains in the ownership of the Tenants, but is held by the deposit protection services in trust until termination of the tenancy.  Provided that the tenant leaves the property in a satisfactory condition, this deposit is then returned to them.  If however, there is damage or detriment to the property beyond fair wear and tear, or if items have been broken or misplaced, their cost of making good or replacement is deducted from the deposit prior to repayment.  Remember, we photograph every property before and after occupation.

AT THE COMPLETION OF THE ABOVE STAGES YOUR PROPERTY IS LET

SAFETY AND STATUTORY REGULATIONS
It is of course the Landlord's duty to ensure that the property being Let and any contents are both safe and fit for their intended purpose.  In addition however, there are specific regulations in force which must be observed.  At the present time the more important of these are as follows:

THE GAS SAFETY (INSTALLATION AND USE) REGULATIONS 1994
The practical implication of these regulations is that all properties which are Let must have the Gas Installation and Appliances which form part of the tenancy inspected by an engineer employed by an approved contracted Corgi/Gas Safe registered company.  The inspecting engineer must provide a certificate indicating the appliances and installation have been inspected and confirm that they are satisfactory in respect of the current regulations.  This certification must be provided on an annual basis.

Birch Property Consultants would prefer to arrange the necessary inspections and certifications on the Landlords behalf.  The contractors employed to undertake the inspections, do of course, make a charge and we can provide advice on the current costs when required.

THE FURNITURE AND FURNISHINGS (FIRE SAFETY AMENDMENT) REGULATION 1993
This regulation only affects furnished or part furnished tenancies and relates to soft furnishings, principally beds, mattresses, pillows, cushions, etc.  Under these regulations, it is necessary to show individual items of furniture comply with the regulations and advice on specific items will be given at the time of the Agents initial inspection.

ELECTRICAL TESTING
We recommend that wiring is tested every twelve months and that all electrical appliances that remain at the property are checked, as the most common cause of fire in a in a house is by means of faulty electrics.

SELECTING A TENANT
As indicated above, we have a register of prospective Tenants currently seeking a suitable property. Tenants are intervieved by a member of staff to ascertain their requirements for a property and for us to assess their suitability as a Tenant.  Using this method, we are more accurately able to match a Tenant to your property.

Once we have a prospective Tenant acceptable to us, we make arrangements for them to view the property. When the prospective Tenant confirms that they would like the property and that the rent requirements are acceptable to them, we request that they provide us with satisfactory references from their employers, previous Landlords or Mortgage Lenders and a Personal Reference.  We also insist that they complete one of our application forms so we may carry out full credit checks to the ability to pay the rent and to be passed by our insurers for our Rent Guarantee Scheme. Optional extra for guarantee.

THE TENANCY
Once we have confirmed that the Tenant is fully acceptable, we will notify you of the proposed tenancy and details of the Tenant.

Your Solicitor or Legal Adviser could prepare the Tenancy Agreement, or alternatively you could opt to use our standard form for a Shorthold Tenancy.  The more usual Tenancy Agreement adopted is the Shorthold Tenancy Agreement.  This agreement is signed by both the Tenant and the Landlord in a prescribed form.

A principal benefit of the Shorthold Tenancy to you as the Landlord, is that possession of the property can be regained and the tenancy terminated, if required, at the end of the initial six month period.  To terminate the tenancy, it is necessary for formal notice to be served on the Tenant.

After the initial six month period, the Tenancy can be allowed to run on a month to month basis and be terminated when required in the manner described above.  This added flexibility is another attractive feature.

THE INVENTORY
Before the Tenant is allowed to occupy the property, we prepare an inventory, which refers to the present condition of the property and lists any fixtures, fittings and furnishings, which form part of the tenancy and note their condition.  On the entering the property, the Tenant signs this inventory to confirm it is an accurate statement.  As a leading Letting Agent, we can also carry out a photographic Inventory, a copy of this CD Inventory can then be given to the Tenant upon occupation of the property, and a copy for you and one for us, which we refer to when we carry out our three monthly inspections.

SOME OF YOUR QUESTIONS ANSWERED

WHAT ARE YOUR AGENCY COSTS?
Birch Property Consultants make a charge for their management services based upon 14% of all rentals under Rent Guarantee, this is an insurance we take out on the Tenant, or 10% without Rent Guarantee (both are subject to VAT).

Fees relating to this service are an Introduction Fee of £270 for new lets, plus 10% or 14% of the monthly rental income deducted at source for each tenancy.  This rate is for the Sole Agency instructions only.  Multiple Agency Rate Carries an Introduction Fee of £325.

Our normal accounting period (i.e. When we pay the rent to the Landlord) is monthly, some Landlords prefer to receive the net rent on a quarterly basis; there is no extra charge for this service.

Please note there are no additional charges made in respect of the following services:

  • Production of the property details or other advertising material to be displayed in our showrooms.
  • The erection of a 'To Let/Let By' board if appropriate.
  • The accompanied viewing of prospective Tenants at the property.
  • Periodic inspections of the property (at approximately three monthly intervals) to confirm that the property is being cared for in a good and Tenant-like manner.
  • The obtaining of references to support prospective Tenants.
  • The management of insurance for property or contents, if required, and the management of annual premiums.
  • Photographic inventory CD.
  • Leases.
  • All correspondence relating to services (i.e. Water, Electric, Gas, Council Tax).

An additional charge will be made in respect of the following services:

  • The arrangement of minor works of repair and maintenance if and when necessary.
  • The arrangement of the annual certification of compliance with Gas Safety Regulations (as previously outlined).

SHOULD I LET FURNISHED OR UNFURNISHED?
In the present market, it makes little difference whether property is let furnished or unfurnished, although certain types of property are easier to let on a furnished basis.  In all cases we recommend that the accommodation has carpets, curtains, cooker and fridge fitted, flats to have washer/dryers.  Smoke detectors are essential.

If letting on a furnished basis, it is essential that items of soft furniture (i.e. chairs, cushions and mattresses) comply with current Fire Safety Regulations.  We will advise in regard to these regulations when we inspect the property.

It is better to let the property unfurnished, rather than fill the accommodation with poor quality or unattractive furnishings.  The standard of the furniture will reflect in the quality of the Tenant the accommodation attracts (i.e. would the furniture be acceptable to you if you are moving into the property)

WHAT FURNITURE IS REQUIRED FOR A FURNISHED LETTING?
There is no hard or fast rule as to what furniture should be left in the accommodation, although as indicated above, it is always desirable to leave carpets, curtains and cooking facilities.  If the accommodation were to be considered fully furnished, we would recommend that the minimum should include all those items of basic furniture and domestic equipment suitable for the requirements of the number of persons likely to occupy the accommodation.  This would not normally include personal items such as bed linen etc.

CAN I SELL THE PROPERTY WHILST IT IS LET?
It is possible to market the property whilst a Tenant is in occupation, but only if the Tenant is in agreement.  In practice, it is not practical to market the property for sale during the first three months of a  Shorthold Tenancy.

WHEN CAN I REGAIN POSSESSION OF MY PROPERTY?
If the property is let on a six month Shorthold Tenancy, you do not have the right to terminate the tenancy until the end of the initial six month period.  Possession can be obtained at any time after the initial six months by formally giving the Tenant two months notice for possession.  If however, a Tenant refuses to vacate after receiving the legal two month’s notice, an application to the Court would be required.

REFERENCE VERIFICATION SERVICE
Birch Property Consultants employ the service of Credit Reference Agencies to verify the authenticity and accuracy of the reference supplied by the proposed Tenants.  A Credit Score is obtained; depending on the score, a decision will be made as to whether to continue with the proposed Tenant’s application.

  • All applications are automatically cross-checked with database
  • Verification of the current home address as supplied by the applicant
  • Confirmation of the reason for departure
  • Verification of home address for the last three years
  • Current Managing Agent/Landlord reference
  • Verification of the existence of the applicants employment
  • Confirmation that the company where the applicant is employed is financially sound
  • Confirmation of the position held by the applicant
  • Confirmation of the commencement date of the applicants employment
  • Confirm a as to whether the applicant is employed on a full or part time basis
  • Confirmation of the applicant's salary
  • Verification of previous employers as listed by the applicant
  • Clarification regarding the reason of departure from the previous employers
  • Verification of the applicants date of birth
  • County/Court Judgment searches
  • Bankruptcy/Sequestration searches
  • Voluntary Arrangement searches
  • Bank and Finance House checks
  • Limited Company searches with profit and loss balance sheet analysis
  • Company searches on registered charities
  • Directorship searches combined with Company searches
  • Accountant/Auditor reference
  • Local Authority reference
  • Verification of Overseas Nationals
  • Searches with various professional bodies
  • Guarantors may also be required for young, unemployed tenants, under 25 years of age
  • We offer Landlords rental income and legal expenses subject to satisfactory references and small charge of £50.00 per let.

We are members of the Eastern Landlords Association which operate a strict code of practice and are affiliated to the National Federation of Residential Landlords.

We are members of LBL landlord and Letting Agents listing absconding and unsatisfactory tenants.

WILL MY BUILDING SOCIETY AGREE TO ME LETTING?
It is generally necessary to obtain the Mortgagee's permission to let the property.  Consent is normally given, although most Building Societies and Banks have their own regulations with regard to the Tenancy Agreement.  In general, they will require to see that the net income received by way of rent, will adequately cover the mortgage repayments and any associated insurance premiums.

WHO IS RESPONSIBLE FOR REPAIRS AND MAINTENANCE?
On a Shorthold Tenancy of six months duration, it is normally the Landlords responsibility for all maintenance, repairs and decoration.  Occasionally, a Tenant of long standing may request permission to undertake cosmetic improvement and consent can be given, with the Landlord's authority.

WHO IS RESPONSIBLE FOR PAYING THE BILLS?
The Tenant is responsible for the cost of all services, i.e. gas, electric, water supply and Council Tax.  At the onset of the tenancy, the Tenant must sign for the supplies and arrange for final payment at the end of the tenancy.  The only variation in this relates to the short period that may occur between tenancies, when the property is unoccupied.  During this brief period, the Landlord is made responsible for the Council Tax which accrues on a day to day basis.  If this occurs, we normally pay this expense on your behalf out of rents collected.  Birch Property Consultants will inform service providers of in and outgoing Tenants and take meter readings with the exception of the telephone and water meters.

Due to the regulations from service providers of gas, electric and water, it can sometimes take up to three weeks after a tenant moves in to a property to ascertain who the previous providers were.  Every effort is taken to deal with this as soon as possible.

AT THE END OF THE TENANCY
Under a Shorthold Tenancy, formal notice can be given by either the Landlord or the Tenant to terminate the Tenancy after the initial six month period.  Unless we hear from you to the contrary, the Tenancy will continue on an ongoing month to month basis until you notify us that you wish to terminate the Agreement.

If the Notice of Termination is received from the Tenant, we will immediately contact the Landlord to ascertain whether they wish to re-let the property.  At this time, we can provide a new rental valuation and if required, an open market valuation (i.e. for sale purposes).  Should it be the Landlords wish that the property is a re-let, we immediately initiate the procedures outlined in this guide.

At the point when the Tenant moves out, we inspect the property armed with the inventory signed and agreed by the Tenant at the commencement of the Tenancy.  We do this in order that we can confirm there is no damage suffered to the property beyond that which we would consider to be normal wear and tear.  Should there be any sign of damage or breakages, the costs of making good are deducted from the security deposit before it is repaid to the Tenant.

We remind all Tenants to refer to the Inventory, so we receive the property back in the same condition as it was when let to them.

We have briefly outlined the principal procedures which we adopt when carrying out our Letting and Management Services.  We hope that they do not appear over complicated, but remember, once you have given Birch Property Consultants your instructions, you can simply forget about these complications and leave the concern to us safe in the knowledge that your property is in experienced, professional hands.

YOU CAN BE ASSURED THAT BY EMPLOYING THE BIRCH PROPERTY CONSULTANTS, YOU WILL RECEIVE THE VERY BEST PROFESSIONAL SERVICE.

Notes:

  • We deal with many large companies and accept credit card payments.
  • Our Insurance Services can assist Landlords and Tenants to find the right insurance cover.
  • We can arrange 'Buy to Let' Mortgages subject to satisfactory conditions.  Contact us for a free, no obligation quote.

 

SELLING – WE CAN ARRANGE FOR A FREE VALUATION ON YOUR PROPERTY WHETHER RESIDENTIAL OR COMMERCIAL.