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The Property

A thorough inspection of the property is recommended to ensure that the structure, roof, plumbing, wiring etc. is in good order.  Where necessary, all works of repair should be completed prior to the commencement of the Tenancy.  It is the Landlord’s obligation to maintain the aforementioned throughout the term of the Tenancy subject to any term to the contrary in the Tenancy Agreement mutually agreed by the parties.

Decorations

The Landlord should attend to any internal or external decorations that are necessary prior to the commencement of the Tenancy.

APPLIANCES – GAS SAFETY (INSTALLATION & USE) REGS 1994

We recommend that the Landlord should have all appliances, including the central system, checked and serviced.  Where possible maintenance contracts should be taken out and details of this arrangement should be provided to the Tenant/and or the Agent.  It is imperative that all operating manuals for all the appliances, including guarantee details, are provided to the Tenant.

The latest set of Health and Safety Regulations affecting Landlords and Tenants is embodied in the Gas Safety Regulations 1994 which have been issued with guidance notes and a Code of Practice, all under the auspices of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974.  The Landlord has to ensure that each such appliance is checked for safety at least once a year by a competent person who is (or is employed by) a member of an organisation registered with the Council for Registered Gas Installers (“GAS SAFETY REGISTER”).  The Landlord is obliged to keep a record in respect of these appliances incorporating the dates of inspection, the defects, if any, identified and any remedial action taken.  This record has to be made available if requested by a tenant, who has to give reasonable notice.  There is no statutory format for such records.

“Gas Appliance” – an appliance designed for use by a consumer of gas for heating, lighting and cooking.  This can include a portable or mobile appliance supplied with gas from a cylinder or the cylinder itself and connected fittings.

These requirements impose a LEGAL DUTY ON LANDLORDS to carry out the annual maintenance checks and keep records.  The cost of compliance is borne by the Landlord

ENERGY PERFORMANCE CERTIFICATE (EPC)

The Landlord must provide an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) and the accompanying recommendation report to all potential tenants during marketing and prior to the commencement of a tenancy.  An EPC is valid for 10 years from the date it is commissioned and can be reused for new tenants as many times as required within that period. Further details are available from the government website: www.communities.gov.uk

PERIDOC ELECTRICAL INSPECTION

Although it is yet to be a legal requirement it is highly recommended that an inspection be carried out.  Some tenancies require evidence of this test.  Once carried out a satisfactory certificate is valid for 5 years.

FURNITURE & FIRE

The Consumer Protection Act 1987 Section 12(1) and the 1988 Regulations make it an offence to supply/provide any furnishings to which the Regulations apply, unless that furniture meets what is known as the “cigarette/match test” and must meet the Fire Regulations Requirement.

The Regulations basically apply to all upholstery and upholstered furnishings, loose fittings, permanent or loose covers, manufactured after 1950.  The offence carries a punishment of six months imprisonment or a fine to a maximum of £5,000 or both.

Providing the furnishings were acquired prior to 1st March 1993 it will not be necessary to change the furnishings until 31st December 1996.  After this date, all furniture, which does not comply, must be changed.

A Landlord letting their home for “temporary” period and not in the course of business has a moral, (not legal), responsibility to comply.  All second homes or investment properties must comply.

As many lives are lost each year from fire and smoke, we recommend the installation of smoke detectors throughout your property.  It is important however that these are regularly checked, especially if they are battery operated.

All new homes built after June 1992 must be fitted with mains operated smoke detectors on every floor.

REPAIRS AND REPLACEMENTS

If we are to manage your property then we will deal with all the day-to-day repairs, which may arise during the tenancy.  In this regard, we will instruct contractors we normally deal with, unless you specifically instruct us to deal with your own contractors.  If this is the case, then it will be necessary for you to provide us with the name, address and telephone number of the plumber, electrician, general handyman etc., who normally attend to the property.

If repairs are likely to exceed £500 then we will obtain estimate/s for your approval in the first instance, unless there is an emergency.  Instructions will only be given to contractors if we are in funds.  We usually hold a reserve fund from the rent but in the event that this reserve fund is inadequate to cover the work, then we will ask you to place us in funds before any work is carried out.  As we are not Chartered Surveyors, any major work or structural problems would have to be referred to our consultant Chartered Surveyor to prepare a report on your behalf.  He will however make a separate charge for his services.

If we are not instructed to manage your property, then it is essential that you provide us with the name, address, telephone and fax number of the person who will look after the property on your behalf, so that this information can be conveyed to the Tenant.

KEYS

It is essential that the Landlord provides sufficient sets of keys for the use of the Tenant and if we are to manage the property, then an additional set should be provided for our use.  Keys for internal doors, patio doors, window locks and cupboard doors should be clearly marked and left in the property.  Keys to electricity, gas and water meters/mains should also be clearly marked and left in the property for the use of the Tenant.

BURGLAR ALARM

If there is a burglar alarm system then clear instructions must be given to the Tenant and/or the Agent if we are to manage the property.  It is usual for the Landlord to maintain the alarm system and therefore suitable arrangements should be made to continue with the maintenance contract throughout the term of the tenancy.  If the alarm system is linked to a central monitoring system/police, then the Tenant and the Agent must be informed of the “Password”.  In these circumstances, it is usual for the Tenant to pay for any call-outs during the tenancy and to reactivate the alarm system.

CONTENTS UNDER HIRE PURCHASE OR RENTAL HIRE

The Landlord should ensure that all rental payments and hire purchase instalments are paid for the period of the tenancy.

GROUND RENT & SERVICE CHARGES

The Landlord should make arrangements to pay the ground rent and service charges during the term of the tenancy, unless we are to manage the property.  In these circumstances, the Landlord must advise the authorities concerned to forward the demands to us for payment.

REDIRECTION OF MAIL

As we are unable to provide a forwarding service for the redirection of mail, arrangements should be made through your local Post Office who will charge a nominal fee for this service.

ELECTRICITY

Landlords must ensure that all electrical appliances and the electrical supply is “safe” and will not cause danger.  We therefore suggest that you arrange for your local Electricity Board or a qualified electrician to carry out a survey of the wiring and all electrical appliances throughout your property prior to any letting.

GARDEN

The Landlord should ensure that the garden is in good and tidy condition.  If the Landlord is responsible for the garden then appropriate arrangements for a gardener must be arranged. Alternatively if the Tenant is responsible appropriate tools must be provided.

CLEANING

The Landlord must ensure that when the property is handed over, that all windows inside and outside have been cleaned and that the property generally is in a clean and tidy condition.

AUTHORITY TO ENTER INTO A TENANCY AGREEMENT

It is imperative that the party entering into the Tenancy Agreement or the person signing on behalf of that party has the legal right to do so.  Proof of such authority may be required.

CONSENT TO LETTING

It is essential that the Landlord obtain the necessary consents where applicable from the Head Lessor, Mortgagee, etc.

INSURANCE

It is the Landlord’s responsibility to insure the property and contents (including Public Liability) for the full period of the Tenancy or any extension thereof and for any period that the property may be vacant.  If requested we can arrange insurance on behalf of the Landlord.

UTILITY ACCOUNT

Where possible, all utility accounts such as telephone, gas and electricity should be paid up to the date that the property may be vacated by the Landlord.  Reconnection of the supplies must be arranged by yourself on repossession of the property on the termination of the tenancy.

COUNCIL TAX

The Landlord should make arrangements to pay the Council Tax up to the date the property has been tenanted from.  Thereafter, it is the Tenants responsibility and it is for the Landlord to advise the necessary authorities.

STATUS OF LANDLORD

It is imperative that the Agent is informed as to the status of the Landlord, whether the Landlord is an Owner, Occupier, or a Residential Landlord within the definition of the Housing Act or whether the Landlord holds the property as an investment.  This information is required so that the Landlord’s Protection under the Housing Act is ensured so far as possible.

HOUSING ACTS

In certain cases the Tenant could obtain protection under the Rent Act and enjoy security of Tenure.  However, depending on the Landlord’s status as mentioned above and providing necessary documentation has been served correctly the Housing Act 1988 protects Landlord’s rights to repossess their property should they wish to do so.  While we endeavour wherever possible to arrange matters so that the Tenant has no security, we can take no responsibility in this regard.  The Landlord must rely on their own legal advice.  Any Tenant whether a Company or an Embassy has the right to apply to the Rent Assessment Committee to have a “Fair Rent” assessed.  A Tenant under an “AST” is entitled to make an application to the Rent Assessment Committee for a “market rent” to be assessed.

It is possible to enter into a Tenancy Agreement with an individual without him/her having a security of tenure.  The type of tenancy is known as an Assured Short hold Tenancy “AST”.

Certain rules must however be complied with:-

1. The Tenancy must be for a term certain of not less than six months without any options to renew. There is no maximum period but we would not recommend more than three years.

2. There must be no facility for the Landlord to terminate before six months.

3. If the Landlord requires possession at the end of the fixed term, a prescribed notice must be served on the Tenant at least two months prior to the end of the fixed term.

Companies and Embassies cannot be offered an “AST” as this type of tenancy applies to individuals only.

TENANCY AGREEMENT

Fox Gregory prepare a standard Tenancy Agreement which has been approved by the Law Society and various solicitors and cover most eventualities, but we suggest that the Landlord’s own solicitors be given the opportunity to peruse the Agreement as we cannot be responsible whatsoever in relation to the use of the Agreement in any particular case.  Our standard charge to the Landlord for the preparation of the Tenancy Agreement and administration of the Tenancy Deposit Scheme is £250.00 plus VAT.

STAMP DUTY LAND TAX

Stamp Duty Land Tax is charged annually at 1% on the excess over the prevailing threshold for the Net Present Value of the total rent payable over the term of the lease.  Further information can be obtained by telephoning the Inland Revenue on 0845 603 0135 or by visiting their website at www.inlandrevenue.gov.uk/so.

DEPOSITS & DILAPIDATIONS

The Tenant will be required to pay over a Deposit (usually six weeks rent) against damages, dilapidation, and unpaid rent.  This deposit is usually held by the Agent in accordance with the Tenancy Deposit Scheme.  Further information can be obtained by visiting http://www.direct.gov.uk/en/TenancyDeposit/index.htm.  The Tenant must be provided with details of the protection scheme within 14 days of receiving the deposit.  At the end of tenancy the condition and contents of the property should be checked against the agreement made at the start of the tenancy. Once the Landlord and Tenant have agreed the necessary appropriations to be made from the deposit the agreed amount must then be returned to the Tenant with 10 days.  If the extent of the dilapidations are such that estimates have to be obtained or replacement items purchased then the responsibility for arranging for such estimates and replacements is the Landlords.  The Agent will not attend to such matters on behalf of the Landlord.  If an agreement cannot be reached, we would recommend the matter be referred to the disputes department offered free by the chosen scheme; both parties must agree to use the scheme otherwise we would recommend the matter be referred to an arbitrator.

RENT TO BE PAID

Where the Landlord requires the rent to be remitted directly to his Bank or Building Society in the United Kingdom, the Agents will require the name, address, branch and account number of such Bank or Building Society.  If the rental is to be remitted to an alternative address, then full details are to be provided.  If the funds are to be remitted outside the United Kingdom, the Agent will provide this service subject to payment by the Landlord of any bank charges incurred.  It must be stressed that this service will only be provided whilst there are no exchange control restrictions.

INVENTORY

It is customary practice for the Inventory and Schedule of Condition to be prepared by an independent specialist inventory firm and the Agent will arranged for this to be done although no liability in respect of this service will be attached to the Agent.  If it is the Landlord’s intention to prepare the Inventory then it should also include a Schedule of Condition.  In this case it will also be necessary for the Landlord to “Check Out” the Inventory with the Tenant at the end of the Tenancy.

TAXATION

With effect from the 6th April 1996 the new Self-Assessment Rules will apply for all taxpayers. Under Self-Assessment, overseas Landlords will be allowed to submit their own Tax Returns of UK rental income and can apply for Revenue permission to have their rental income paid gross, that is without deduction of tax.  The Landlord must apply to the FICO office of the Inland Revenue for the relevant form and must return the completed form to that office.  The Landlord must complete this form as neither the Agent nor their Accountant/Tax Consultant can fill out the form on their behalf.  Providing the overseas Landlord has a good tax history and their affairs are up to date, they will be issued with an exemption certificate.  A copy of the certificate will be sent to us by the Inland Revenue thereby enabling us not to deduct tax at source.  If the Landlord changes Agents, they must notify the FICO office of the Inland Revenue, who will issue a new exemption certificate to the second Agent.

If we are not in possession of a tax exemption certificate from an overseas Landlord, then we will be obliged to deduct 20% from all rent received less any allowable expenses paid on behalf of the Landlord.  All tax deducted will be paid to the Revenue on the stipulated quarter days.  In addition, we will be obliged to submit an Annual Return by the 5th July each year.  This Return will include the name and address of the overseas Landlord and the total rent received for the tax year.

Where a Landlord instructs a Tenant to pay the rent directly to him, then we will be obliged to notify the Tenant that they will be liable to deduct tax in accordance with the above regulations and we will also be obliged to notify the Inland Revenue of the arrangement.

 

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